Eying 2020 Delhi Assembly elections, Kejriwal announce free public transport for women

Those who can afford, can purchase tickets, they needn't take subsidy. We encourage those, who can afford, to buy tickets says Kejriwal

Prime News, Nation, (New Delhi), June 3:-Months ahead of the 2020 assembly elections, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal on Monday announced free travel for women in Delhi Metro, DTC and cluster buses.

Addressing reporters, Kejriwal said: “Women security is of utmost importance for AAP. We have taken two important decisions — first is installing CCTV cameras across Delhi, while the other is free public transport for women.”

He added, “On all DTC buses, cluster buses and metro trains women will be allowed to travel free of cost so that they have a safe travel experience and can access modes of transport which they were not able to due to high prices.”

When questioned about any objections raised by the Centre to the scheme, Kejriwal said: “We do not need the Centre’s permission as Delhi will bear the cost of the subsidy.” He added: “Subsidy won’t be imposed on anyone. There are several women who can afford these modes of transport. Those who can afford, can purchase tickets, they needn’t take subsidy. We encourage those, who can afford, to buy tickets¬ take subsidy so that others could benefit.”

The chief minister had first hinted about the scheme in a public meeting on Saturday, during which he also said his government was in touch with the city’s power regulator to bring down fixed charge component of electricity bills.

“The government is considering to waive fare for women in DTC buses and Delhi Metro to encourage them to use public transport in view of their safety. An announcement in this regard will be made on June 3,” Kejriwal had said.

At the time, a Delhi government official said transport minister Kailash Gahlot had already initiated action, holding meetings to discuss various aspects of fare waiver to women in all public transport buses — run by DTC and DIMTS — and Delhi metro.

However, officials had said that while allowing free travel in Delhi Transport Corporation (DTC) and cluster buses run by the Delhi Integrated Multi Modal System (DIMTS) may not be difficult, it will be “challenging” to do so in Metro trains. The Delhi government and the Centre are 50:50 equity partners in the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation.

An official had also pointed out that the Delhi government and the Centre’s Housing and Urban Affairs Ministry have not been on the same page over several issues related to metro, including fare hike and Phase-IV of the Metro network.

In the meeting, Kejriwal had further claimed that the fixed charge component of power tariff were raised by the Delhi Electricity Regulatory Authority (DERC) last year “without consulting” the Delhi government. “Next month new tariff is to be fixed. We have asked the DERC to bring back fixed charges to previous levels and they are likely to agree to it,” he said.

The monthly fixed charges were raised for domestic consumers having up to 2 KW load from Rs 20 to Rs 125. The Delhi government provides subsidy to such consumers. However, in other categories, consumers pay higher fixed charges.

The hike in fixed charges for other slabs were — for 2-5 kw, from Rs 35 to Rs 140; 5-15 KW, Rs 45 to Rs 175; 15-25 kw, from Rs 60 to Rs 200; and for more than 25 KW, from Rs 100 to Rs 250.

In the just-concluded Lok Sabha polls, the AAP won only one seat out of over 40 it contested in nine states and Union Territories. The poll results came as a jolt to the party as it builds up for the assembly elections in Delhi early next year.

Stung by the dismal performance, the AAP government swung into action just a day after the Model Code of Conduct was lifted with Chief Minister directing his ministers on May 27 to speed up work on flagship schemes such as Mohalla Clinic, procurement of buses and the CCTV project.

Senior Aam Aadmi Party leader Gopal Rai has, however, dismissed suggestions that the results would have an impact on Delhi assembly elections, asserting there is no alternative to Kejriwal in the national capital.

-(NAV, Inputs: Agencies)

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