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Thursday, Nov 21, 2019

Free rides for women just poll gimmick, says metro man E Sreedharan

Sreedharan highlighted that the Delhi Metro was under a Rs 35,000 crore debt, adding that providing free travel would set an alarming precedence for other metros in the country, which also carry “heavy debt burden”.

delhi Updated: Jun 22, 2019 10:23 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
New Delhi
AAP leader Atishi hit back at Sreedharan on Friday and said that his response seemed “political”.
AAP leader Atishi hit back at Sreedharan on Friday and said that his response seemed “political”. (HT Photo)
         

‘Metro man’ E Sreedharan responded to Delhi’s deputy chief minister Manish Sisodia’s letter on Thursday and called the Delhi government’s proposal to make Metro rides free for women, an “election gimmick”.

“I am not opposing the Delhi government’s proposal to bear the cost of free travel for women, but only objecting to the concept of free travel on the Metro,” Sreedharan’s letter read.

It added, “Your government may compensate the DMRC for losses due to free travel for women, but successor governments may not.”

Sreedharan highlighted that the Delhi Metro was under a Rs 35,000 crore debt, adding that providing free travel would set an alarming precedence for other metros in the country, which also carry “heavy debt burden”.

“If metros show signs of running into a debt trap, no loans will be forthcoming for our future metros,” the letter said.

Sisodia had sent a letter to Sreedharan last week and said he was “surprised and pained” by Delhi Metro’s founding managing director not supporting the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) government’s plan to provide free travel to women on the Metro.

“The Delhi government will buy around a million coupons in bulk from the DMRC on a daily basis and provide these to women… Why should anyone have any objection to that?” Sisodia had said.

AAP leader Atishi hit back at Sreedharan on Friday and said that his response seemed “political”.

“We responded to his (Sreedharan’s) letter because he is the ‘Metro Man’ and is a respectable figure in the country. We wanted to make him understand our rationale behind the scheme. It is surprising to see the Metro Man writing such a political letter,” Atishi said.

After chief minister Arvind Kejriwal had announced the scheme, Sreedharan, who is now the principal adviser of the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC), had written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi urging him not to allow the proposal.

In Thursday’s letter, Sreedharan also criticised the government for “destroying an efficient and successful public transport system for electoral gains”.

“Everybody knows this is an election gimmick to win votes of women in the next assembly elections,” he said.

Sreedharan added that no Metro in the world has extended free travel to women exclusively and this offer will worsen crowding and lead to mishaps.

“If the Delhi government is flush with funds, why not assist the DMRC procure more trains and construct more lines so that the present overcrowding can get a relief,” he said.

Taking a dig at the government Sreedharan also said, “On the other hand, to my knowledge, the Delhi government has delayed giving approval to the fourth phase expansion by two years and has not come forward to introduce link bus services for last-mile connectivity.”