Reject free ride plan, it’ll lead to bankruptcy: Metro Man to Modi
Former Delhi Metro chief E Sreedharan, known as Metro Man, has written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi urging him “not to agree” with the Delhi Government’s proposal for giving women commuters’ free rides.
In his letter to the Prime Minister on June 10, a copy of which was accessed by The Pioneer, Sreedharan wrote, “One shareholder cannot take a unilateral decision to give concession to one section of community and push Delhi Metro into inefficiency and bankruptcy.” Sreedharan, presently a Principal Adviser to the Delhi Metro and Lucknow Metro Rail Corporation (LMRC), sought PM Modi’s “personal intervention” in the matter.
“If the Delhi Government is so keen to help lady commuters, I would suggest the Delhi Government can pay directly to the lady commuters the cost of their travel rather than make travel free on the Metro,” Sreedharan said in the letter.
Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal recently announced its decision to allow free rides to women passengers on DTC buses and Metro trains. Once implemented by August-September, the scheme would put an additional burden of around Rs 700-800 crore in the current financial year. The Delhi Government and Centre are equal partners in the Delhi Metro.
“When the first section of the Delhi Metro was to be opened in 2002, 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 maximise 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 Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA),” Sreedharan wrote.
Reacting on the Sreedharan’s letter, AAP MLA Saurabh Bhardwaj said, “We thank Sreedharanji for his response and suggestion on the free ride scheme for woman and girls. The scheme is getting both positive and negative suggestions but I would like to inform Sreedharanji that with this scheme Metro station and its efficiency will not be harmed”.
“The Government has both idea and money to implement the scheme. Further, as per your suggestion if the Government will deposit money in all women’s account, we won’t be able to identify who is spending on travelling in Metro as people can use the money for any purpose.
The purpose is solely for woman safety, security and empowerment,” Bharadwaj said.
Sreedharan also recalled that then Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee also bought a ticket for himself when he went to inaugurate the first section of the Metro on December 23, 2002.
“I would very earnestly request you sir not to agree to the Delhi Government’s proposal of free travel to ladies in the Metro,” the letter read.
“Now, if ladies are to be given free travel concession in Delhi Metro, it would set an alarming precedence to all other Metros in the country. The argument of the Delhi Government that the revenue losses would be reimbursed to the DMRC is a poor solace,” the former Delhi Metro Managing Director said.
Interestingly, experts of transport sector are not convinced with Sreedharan’s idea of transfer money directly to women beneficiaries account as there is no data of women riders available with the Delhi Metro.
Having been instrumental in setting up the Delhi Metro, Sreedharan stepped down as Managing Director in 2011. He wrote 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.
Saturday, 15 June 2019 | PNS | New Delhi
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