The free-ride scheme for women on Delhi public buses might be extended to senior citizens and all students, Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said as the initiative took off on Tuesday (October 29).
This scheme will help in women empowerment by bridging the gender gap that exists in society, the chief minister said on his mobile application AK App and added that this was a gift from their brother on Bhai Dooj.
“Now, girls and women who had to drop out of schools and colleges because of high transportation cost don’t need to sacrifice their education. They can now take buses to good schools and colleges which are away from their homes. “Similarly, women whose offices are far need not worry about transportation cost,” Kejriwal said.
Women taking Delhi Transport Corporation (DTC) and cluster buses were on Tuesday issued pink tickets of face value of ₹10 by conductors under the scheme. The government will reimburse transporters based on the number of such tickets issued.
Bus rides for senior citizens and students might be made free too in the coming days, Kejriwal said on the app, which was launched by him ahead of the assembly polls here.
“Every step cannot be completed at once. We will definitely do it. Let us start with women and see the results, and based on the result we will definitely deliberate on making these rides free for senior citizens and students too in the future,” he said.
The AAP national convenor slammed his rivals for questioning his plans to provide such facilities to citizens, saying these parties need to rise above politics. Delhi is scheduled to go to polls early next year and opposition parties have been alleging that the AAP government is giving “freebies” to woo voters.
“Rajiv Gandhi (former prime minister) had said out of ₹100 spent for welfare of people, ₹85 goes into corruption and just ₹15 reaches people. We are saving those ₹85 and giving facilities to the people of Delhi.
“Then what problem does the opposition parties have if I am working towards the welfare of the people. They should get above politics in these matters,” Kejriwal said.
On deployment of marshals on buses, he said they will now be deployed in all the public buses to ensure safety and protection of women. “I warn all goons harassing women in buses that if you try to harass women there are marshals to take care of you,” Kejriwal said.
Asserting his government’s commitment to boost women security in Delhi, he on Monday said the number of marshals on buses in the national capital will be increased by nearly 10,000 on the auspicious occasion of Bhai Dooj.
India will grow only when the women of the country grow. Giving free rides to women in buses can prove to be a very big step towards women empowerment, the chief minister said.
Terming the free-ride scheme a gift from their brother on Bhai Dooj, he said whenever women have got equal opportunities they have excelled and this is an attempt by “us to provide that opportunity”.
“Whether it was in the field of sports or business whenever women got opportunities they excelled. But they do not have equal opportunities. Let me give you figures. Delhi’s workforce just has 11% women. Just 30% women travel in metro,” Kejriwal said.
The free ride scheme was announced by Kejriwal for buses and Delhi Metro trains in June. However, it could not be done for metro trains as the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation has sought time to work out plans for its implementation.
The Delhi assembly has also approved a grant of ₹150 crore for implementation of the scheme in metro trains. There are around 3,700 DTC buses and 1,800 buses under the cluster scheme of the Delhi Integrated Multi-Modal Transit System (DIMTS).