In what exposes the faultlines in Delhi CM Kejriwal’s populist proposal to extend free Delhi Metro travel to women in the National Capital, E Sreedharan, known as the ‘Metro Man’ for his contribution towards setting up the Delhi Metro has penned a letter to Prime Minister Modi asking him not to agree with Kejriwal’s proposal to make metro travel free for women travellers.
Recently, the Kejriwal government made a populist announcement to make metro travel free for women in the National Capital. The Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC), the authority which operates the Delhi Metro is an equal partnership between the Centre and the Delhi Government. E. Sreedharan, Principal Advisor to DMRC, went to the extent of suggesting that the Prime Minister’s “personal intervention” was required.
The letter stated, “One shareholder cannot take a unilateral decision to give concession to one section of the community and push Delhi Metro into inefficiency and bankruptcy.” The letter expresses the Metro Man’s dismay and disappointment at the bizarre proposal of Kejriwal. Sreedharan had stepped down as the Managing Director of DMRC in 2011 after being an instrumental part of the corporation for several years. In his letter, E Sreedharan has also made it clear that he had decided not to intervene in the working of the DMRC after he had stepped down, but he was compelled to speak up in face of this proposal by the Delhi Government.
The letter also stated, “Sir, when the first section of the Delhi Metro was to be opened, 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 maximize revenues so that Metro fares could be kept low so as to be affordable to ordinary citizens…”
He also elaborated upon how the proposal given by the Delhi government is impractical and unworkable. He wrote, “Now, if ladies are to be given free travel concession in Delhi Metro, it would set an alarming precedence for all other Metros in the country. The argument of Delhi Govt that the revenue losses would be reimbursed to DMRC is a poor solace. The amount involved is about 1,000 crores per annum today. This will go on increasing as the Metro network expands and with further fare hikes on the Metro.”
Delhi Metro is nothing less than a lifeline for the daily commuters in Delhi. It has only been due to the efforts of the DMRC personnel and minds like E Sreedharan on account of which Delhi Metro has been able to maintain world-class standards. In fact, as such the Delhi Metro has emerged as a trendsetter and an ideal public transport system. Delhi CM Kejriwal only cares about populist decisions and distributing freebies with an eye on electoral gains. His catastrophic decision can hamper the Delhi Metro in a very bad way and has the potential of reducing the hard work of those who have made the Delhi Metro what it is, to nothing. Now, all eyes are on the Centre to watch out if it can rescue the Delhi Metro and the people of Delhi.