Delhi cabinet's nod to free DTC bus travel for women (Lead)

New Delhi, Aug 29 (IANS) The Delhi cabinet on Thursday gave in-principle approval for a free ride to women in DTC and cluster buses starting October 29, Delhi Transport Minister Kailash Gahlot announced.

The Cabinet gave the approval to the Department of Transport's proposal in its meeting chaired by Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal.

Speaking to the media after the meeting, Gahlot said single journey duration passes will be issued to women passengers in Delhi Transport Corporation (DTC) and cluster buses.

"For every pass, a reimbursement of Rs 10 will be made to the DTC. Similar payment in the designated account of cluster scheme for proper accounting of this facility will be done by the government," he said.

Gahlot said the free travel scheme will be voluntary. "Any woman passenger who wants to purchase a journey ticket will be free to do so."

He also said that the Cabinet has directed the DTC to propose suitable amendments in the DTC (Free and Concessional Passes) Regulations, 1985 subject to any alterations, if any, "so that the same may be notified in the official gazette".

The Cabinet has also asked the DTC and the Delhi Integrated Multi-Modal Transit System (DIMTS) to strengthen their ticket checking mechanisms to ensure that the facility is not misused.

The free services will be also available for the airport and other special services along with for women passengers plying in the NCR region.

Gahlot also said the women officials of the Delhi government, local bodies and undertakings will not be entitled for the transport allowance, in case they opt for free travel facility in DTC and cluster buses.

"The departments, local bodies, autonomous bodies etc., will take an undertaking from their women government servants to the effect that they are not availing this free travel facility. Transport Department shall also write to the Union Ministry of Finance, after the implementation of the scheme to consider issuing necessary instructions to all the ministries/departments/autonomous bodies belonging to Government of India and located in Delhi."

On June 3, Kejriwal announced that his government is planning to roll out a free travel scheme for women in Delhi Metro and DTC. He said the Delhi government will provide subsidy for free travel to women in DTC buses, cluster buses and Delhi Metro.

The Delhi Assembly had on Monday approved the additional grant of Rs 479 crore for the transport sector, which includes funds to provide subsidy for free rides for women in DTC buses.

The demand for supplementary grant was moved by Finance Minister Manish Sisodia and includes Rs 140 crore for free transport for women by buses. "Rs 90 crore was kept for DTC buses while Rs 50 crore was kept for cluster buses to provide subsidy to female riders," the proposal said.

The proposal for the free Delhi Metro ride is still under process as it includes several technicalities, Gahlot added.

--IANS

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