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Tuesday, Nov 12, 2019

Transport department prepares Rs 150 crore estimate to implement free bus ride scheme

On June 4, Kejriwal had first announced that the Delhi government planned to make travel free for women in its buses and the Metro across Delhi-NCR.

delhi Updated: Aug 17, 2019 02:05 IST
Sweta Goswami
Sweta Goswami
New Delhi
Explaining the reason for taking two-and-a-half months more to implement the scheme, the minister said printing the new pink tickets would need some time.
Explaining the reason for taking two-and-a-half months more to implement the scheme, the minister said printing the new pink tickets would need some time. (HT image)
         

A day after chief minister Arvind Kejriwal announced that all buses in Delhi will be free for women from October 29, the transport department on Friday prepared an estimate of about Rs 150 crore to implement the scheme for the first five months.

On June 4, Kejriwal had first announced that the Delhi government planned to make travel free for women in its buses and the Metro across Delhi-NCR. Following this, on August 15, during his Independence Day speech, the chief minister announced that all buses will be free for women from October 29—the day Bhai Dooj is celebrated in India.

“The initial estimate from October 29 to March 31 is around Rs 150 crore. All the reservations stated by the finance department were overruled by the finance minister and deputy chief minister Manish Sisodia on August 14 after which the CM made the announcement on Thursday. The total annual cost of the scheme for DTC and cluster buses combined is Rs 300 crore,” transport minister Kailash Gahlot said.

While stating that the finance department “stands committed” to provide the necessary funds for the scheme, it suggested that the scheme should be limited to women from the economically weaker sections, so that the benefit can be availed by “deserving female passengers”. All the comments, however, were later overruled by Sisodia.

Explaining the reason for taking two-and-a-half months more to implement the scheme, the minister said printing the new pink tickets would need some time. “Besides, the proposal still has to get cabinet approval, the final note of which will be ready next week. Also, we are aiming that by the time the scheme is launched, all buses have marshals in them,” Gahlot said.

Kejriwal’s announcement was criticised by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on Friday, which called the move a “political stunt” ahead of the assembly elections in Delhi, scheduled early next year. Delhi BJP chief Manoj Tiwari said had Kejriwal been serious about the city’s public transport system, he would have rather focused on bringing in more buses. “At present, the number of DTC buses plying on the roads is only about 3,000, and Delhi requires at least 11,000 new buses to make the public transport reliable. Even the buses plying on roads are in bad condition as they break down every other day. The announcement of free rides in DTC and cluster buses in such circumstances is only a poll gimmick,” he said.