Opposing the AAP government's proposed free travel scheme for women in Delhi Metro trains, its former chief E Sreedharan has urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi not to agree to the proposal as it would set "an alarming precedence".
In a letter to the prime minister, Sreedharan, popularly called 'Metro Man', said if the Delhi government is "so keen" to help women commuters, it can pay the cost of their travel directly to them rather than making travel free on metro trains.
The former Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) chief has also sought Modi's intervention in the matter. Sreedharan said when the first section of the Delhi Metro was to be opened in 2002, he had taken a firm decision that no one would be given travel concession.
Even the then prime minister Atal Bihar Vajpayee had bought a ticket himself to travel to the station from where the metro's first section was inaugurated, he said. "I would very earnestly request you sir not to agree to the Delhi government's proposal of free travel to ladies in the Metro.
"If the Delhi government is so keen to help lady commuters, I would suggest 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. Earlier this month, the Arvind Kejriwal government announced that it would make commute for women in public buses and metro trains free.
"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 DMRC managing director said.
The DMRC is a joint venture of the Centre and the Delhi government, and one shareholder cannot take an unilateral decision to give concession to one section of the community and push the Delhi Metro in to "inefficiency and bankruptcy", Sreedharan said. Even officers and staff, including the managing director of the DMRC, purchase tickets when they travel on the metro on official duties, he said.