The Supreme Court bench headed by Justice Arun Mishra slammed the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) government in Delhi on Friday over its proposal of providing free metro rides for women.
Questioning the financial implications of this proposal, SC asserted that the State government should refrain from spending taxpayers’ money in sops. “Must properly use public money and should refrain from giving free sops to people,” observed Justice Arun Mishra while hearing the petition filed by petitioner MC Mehta, who has opposed the Delhi government’s move.
The bench, which is monitoring the construction of the fourth phase, said that DMRC will run into heavy losses and maintenance, facilities will suffer. The apex court said, “You (Delhi government) will make travel free and the Central government will have to pay for it. Why do you want to destroy the Delhi Metro?”
Notably, the Delhi Metro Corporation is jointly owned by Union Government and Delhi Government with 50 per cent share each.
Noting that losses on this count will run up to Rs 1,500 crore per annum, the bench said that as a result, DMRC may not remain a profitable venture. “DMRC annual revenue is between 6000 and 7000 crores. Its loss for last year was 100 crore. If free sops are given, there would be a direct loss of Rs.1500 crore per annum and DMRC cannot pay its long term debt obligations on time, its expansion would get hampered and its facilities and maintenance would come down,” observed the court.
Going by its old habit of offering populist subsidies just before elections, Kejriwal government had on June 3 proposed that women in Delhi 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.
AAP’s dole of free Metro rides to women was shunned by former Delhi Metro chief, E Sreedharan, popularly known as ‘Metro Man’, who 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.”
Urging the Prime Minister to “not agree” with Kejriwal government’s decision, Sreedharan had then said 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.