New Delhi: Special ‘pink tokens’ for the Delhi Metro will be among the measures employed by the Delhi government to allow women free travel on public transport, Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said Wednesday.
Addressing a press conference with his deputy Manish Sisodia and Transport Minister Kailash Gahlot, Kejriwal added that the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) had sent his government “a formal concrete proposal” for the rollout of his ambitious scheme to let women get a free ride on public transport.
The DMRC proposal, according to the Delhi government, outlines an annual expense of Rs 1,566.64 crore for the scheme. Kejriwal, who said the scheme would be bankrolled by the state government, claimed he had “no objection” to this estimate.
According to the DMRC’s proposal, Kejriwal said, the government would require eight months to roll out the plan. However, he sought to reassure the public that they would try and cut short the wait to three months.
‘A separate entry mechanism’
Listing the measures that are likely to be taken to get the scheme off the ground, the Delhi government said women would have to get pink tokens from Metro stations.
The tokens, Kejriwal added, would help roll out the plans sooner, since the software upgrade required to implement the programme via metro cards could take a year, according to the DMRC proposal.
Kejriwal said the scheme would entail no major technical changes in the current system, except certain provisions to arrange a separate entry mechanism for women.
“A separate ticketing counter and vending machine will be made at the Metro station, wherein women can state their location and be allowed to enter free of cost,” said the CM.
“There are 170 stations in Delhi… (Token) windows are no longer open due to the automatic machine vending system, (but) they will have to be renewed for women to get their pink tokens,” said Kejriwal.
Explaining how the finance part of the scheme would work, Kejriwal said the estimated expense will be paid in advance to the DMRC by the Delhi government.
Responding to allegations about the scheme being antithetical to gender equality, the CM said, “To all the men saying so, they must understand, each of them has either a daughter, a wife, or a sister at home. So, if this scheme is implemented, somewhere, it will cut their expenditure by 50 per cent too.
“The importance of how this (scheme) will empower more women to step out and join the workforce should not be underestimated,” he added, saying it was a “win-win situation for all, be it the central government, state government, DMRC, women, men… everyone”.
It was last week that the Delhi chief minister announced his government’s decision to make women’s daily commute on public transport free. The move was decried by the opposition as a “populist” move aimed at the Delhi assembly elections, which are due early next year.