Delhi Chief Minister Mr. Arvind Kejriwal announced to make metro and bus rides free for women in Delhi, has sparked off a row on the key implications of the proposal as regards to its viability, need, financial impact and above all impact on women’s mobility, which is also linked to education, employment and access to public spaces. The back ground to arrive at such a decision is not without a strong base and the target is the low income group women who wish to get proper education leading to employment but are kept immobile due to various reasons and compulsions.
The act if seen through the glass of gender equality is not so wise step as discrimination on the basis of gender whether it is women or men isn’t wise but if the targeted benefiters are from economically lower class, than it can be a catalyst to the overall development in the national capital area.
Free Rides-At a glance
- On June 3, Arvind Kejriwal had first announced that Delhi Government is working on a proposal to offer free rides to women in Delhi Transport Corporation (DTC) buses, cluster buses as well as the Delhi Metro.
- DMRC has prepared two short term plans for the implementation of the free metro rides and has presented it to the Delhi government. The DMRC has claimed that implementing the free metro scheme for women will lead to an annual loss of around Rs.1560 crore.
- Arvind Kejriwal has stated that the Delhi government will pay the expenses to the DMRC for the plan.
- DMRC has suggested two stop-gap options to the Delhi’s Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) government while expressing concerns over the large scale misusage of the free-travel scheme
Pros to the program
- Many Women remain immobile due to lack of money with them. Mobility of many others is restricted by families by imposing financial control upon them. With meager amount available with them, they are left with no alternative but to opt for the cheapest public transport or walk.
- The free Metro ride plan will remove cost barriers and will improve women’s access to transport leading to employment, education and public spaces.
- The facts reveal that women in urban areas do not get more employment opportunities. The data show that India’s female labor force participation rate in cities is lower than in rural areas. In Delhi alone, more than 19 million people are living but only less than 12% women above the age of 15 years are in employment, as compared to the national average of 27%.
Cons to the program
- Women belonging to upper socio-economic status have the financial capacity to pay the cost to ride in public transport and need not be the recipient of the scheme.
- As stated by DMRC report, due to this scheme, the Delhi metro will have to bear a loss of Rs. 1560 crore on annual basis. In a condition like today’s, where India is still developing and making efforts to strengthen the economy, a financial loss as such on an annual basis does not seem to be just.
- DMRC has also raised concerns over large scale misuse of the free-travel scheme as it depends on manual checks. It has very high risk of misuse by individuals as well as misuse in organized manner.
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