The Delhi government plans to allow women to travel free in DTC and cluster buses and Delhi Metro within the next three months by providing a subsidy, a move dismissed as an election gimmick by the BJP and the Congress.
Putting an additional burden of around Rs 700-800 crore in the current financial year, when implemented by August-September, the scheme will benefit around 8 lakh women who use the Metro every day.
"Women account for about 30 to 33 per cent of all the commuters in Delhi. They can avail free rides on all DTC buses, cluster buses and Delhi Metro," Kejriwal told the media.
"The plan is to encourage women to use public transport, which is considered the safest mode of transport," he added.
The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leader said that officers had been asked to frame a detailed proposal in a week for both the Metro and state-run Delhi Transport Corp (DTC).
"We are trying to get the scheme implemented within 2-3 months," he said. The scheme will not be "imposed" on anyone and will help women who don't use Metro due to high fares.
"Women who can afford can buy tickets. We would encourage them to do so, so that the subsidy can be provided to others."
Kejriwal also said that since they were not making any change in the Metro fare, the Central government's permission was not required. "The subsidy cost will be paid by the Delhi government."
He said the scheme would cost the Delhi government Rs 700-800 crore for the remaining financial year.
A special Budget Session of the Assembly will be called and the Delhi Cabinet's nod will be taken, he said.
According to Kejriwal, the step would not only encourage women to use public transport more but also increase their participation in the workforce.
"The female workforce participation nationally is 27 per cent, but it is only 11 per cent in Delhi... We hope the scheme will encourage more and more of our womenfolk to go out to work."
Kejriwal said the scheme will not impose any congestion in the Metro as its capacity was 40 lakh.
"The ridership of the Metro was 28 lakh per day in March 2017. Today, it has dropped to 25 lakh, after the metro fares were hiked. This step will add an extra one lakh female passengers to the daily ridership. There will be no congestion in the Metro."
Kejriwal sought suggestions from the public on the scheme.
However, there can be a few issues in the implementation of the scheme as the city government and the Centre are equal partners (50-50) in the Delhi Metro Rail Corp.
BJP MP Vijay Goel accused the AAP of misleading people.
"They have lost all the seven seats in Delhi (in Lok Sabha) and are now looking for different ways to fool people for the Assembly elections," Goel said.
A senior Congress leader added: "It is all for elections."
Delhi will see Assembly elections in late 2019 or early 2020.
Asked about possible linkages with the elections, Kejriwal said: "We have rolled out several unique schemes for the people."
(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)