The AAP’ latest populist stunt of providing free metro rides to women has not been received well by the former Delhi Metro chief. E Sreedharan, popularly known as ‘Metro Man’. Sreedharan has written a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, urging him to “not agree” with the Aam Aadmi Party’ proposal for giving free rides to women commuters on public transport.
Earlier this month, Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal had announced that women will be allowed to travel free of cost in all DTC (Delhi Transport Corporation) buses, cluster buses and metro trains in Delhi. He said that this has been to ensure that women can have safe travel experience and access modes of transport which they were not able to do so due to high prices.
Arvind Kejriwal added no subsidy will be imposed on anyone for this scheme and added that those women who can afford to pay, they can purchase the tickets. Taking a leaf out of PM Modi’s, ‘give it up scheme’ for LPG subsidies, he said that Delhi govt will encourage those who can afford to not avail this scheme so that others can benefit.
E Sreedharan, in his letter to the Prime Minister dated June 10 wrote, “One shareholder cannot take a unilateral decision to give concession to one section of the community and push Delhi Metro into inefficiency and bankruptcy.”
E Sreedharan had played a key role in setting up the Delhi Metro. Presently a principal advisor to the DMRC, Sreedharan had stepped down as managing director of DMRC in 2011.
In his letter to the PM Sreedharan asserted that he had decided not to intervene in the working of the Delhi Metro, but the Delhi government’s decision has forced him to come forward.
Since the Delhi government and Centre are equal partners in the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) Sreedharan sought PM Modi’s “personal intervention” in the matter.
He wrote that once the scheme is implemented by August-September, it would put an additional burden of around Rs 700-800 crore in the current financial year. “Sir, when the first section of the Delhi Metro was to be opened, I had taken a firm and conscious decision that no one would be given any travel concession on Delhi Metro. This stand was taken to maximize revenues so that Metro fares could be kept low so as to be affordable to ordinary citizens and at the same time Metro would make sufficient operational surpluses to pay back the loans taken from JAICA,” Sreedharan wrote.
Recalling that the then Prime Minister Atal Bijari Vajpayee also bought a ticket for himself when he went to inaugurate the first section of the Metro on December 23, 2002, Sreedharan furthered “Now, if ladies are to be given free travel concession in Delhi Metro, it would set an alarming precedent to all other Metros in the country. The argument of Delhi Govt that the revenue losses would be reimbursed to DMRC is a poor solace. The amount involved in about 1,000 crores per annum today. This will go on increasing as the Metro network expands and with further fare hikes on the Metro.”
He, however, suggested that the Delhi government can offer subsidies and make monthly upfront payment through Direct Benefit Transfer.