Women wanting to avail free Metro rides, a scheme announced by the Delhi government, may be able to do so only by taking pink tokens from Metro stations, transport minister Kailash Gahlot said Thursday. He said the government and the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) have drafted an initial plan of how the scheme can be implemented. “We are approaching this in the short term and long term. For rolling it out in the next two or three months, and as a short-term plan, the Metro will issue pink tokens at all stations,” he said. A Metro official, on condition of anonymity, said the scheme does not mean female passengers can just walk into a Metro train without a card or token. “Those who want to avail of this will be asked their destination and the ticketing staff will top up the token with the requisite amount. The Delhi government is likely to pay the cost incurred by this scheme beforehand to the DMRC,” the official said. When asked how the Metro plans to manage the crowd at counters and gates, Gahlot said the government is ready to deploy civil defence volunteers. “This will be apart from the Metro and CISF staff present at stations,” he said. Officials said the DMRC estimates that the scheme will cost about ₹1,200 crore a year on Metro rides alone. While announcing the scheme Monday, CM Arvind Kejriwal had said the free travel scheme, both on buses and the Metro, would cost about ₹700-800 crore a year. Talking about a permanent plan, Gahlot said work on this would continue along with the pink token system. “The long-term plan is to provide pink cards to women. For this, the DMRC will have to add a few more entry/exit automatic fare colelction (AFC) gates at stations. The DMRC will also survey all 259 stations in Delhi-NCR and identify those that need extra gates, and other provisions,” the minister said. The DMRC, in its meetings with officials, conveyed that the long-term plan would take about 10 months to implement. Also, the government has not yet decided if the scheme will be limited to Delhi residents.The Delhi Metro will also launch a mega registration campaign to create a database of women travellers. The Metro is mulling to provide women-only smart cards to those who register. “For this scheme, a new software will have to be developed and we also need to have a count of women travellers. If we see an address proof, during the registration, it will also help us classify women who are residents of Delhi, which would help in case the government plans to restrict the scheme to Delhi residents,” another official said. The minister said to prevent misuse of cards, a penalty could be introduced if men are caught using them. “Metro staff could just punch the card and levy a fine if a man is found using the card,” Gahlot said. The transport department has been asked to put up a cabinet note on this proposal by June 11. The proposal has to be cleared by the Delhi cabinet and then the assembly as the scheme involves offering subsidy, which needs a separate budgetary provision.