The Supreme Court has heavily criticized the Delhi government’s decision to allow women to travel free on the metro rail network because of its potential to add to cost overruns.
The court also advises the Delhi government that it should ensure that the financial health of Delhi Metro Rail Corporation or DMRC is maintained properly and no steps are taken that might result in losses.
Justice Deepak Guha, one of the judges on the Bench headed by Justice Arun Mishra took a jibe at the Arvind Kejriwal government and said, “If you allow people to travel free then it will be a problem.. if there are freebies then there will be a problem.”
The observation by the bench came after the Delhi government objected to sharing losses with the center. The bench further observed, “State is responsible for transport. We find nothing objectionable in case the metro suffers losses to be borne by the state as metro is a conveyance within the state and considering the nature of the facility the losses, if any, to be borne by state to ensure policies which do not cause any operational loss or otherwise to the running of the metro …hence we do not find any substance in this objection.”
However, the top court directed that the land cost for the 103.94-km-long Phase IV project would be borne by the center and the Delhi government equally, in 50:50 ratio. The bench also directed the authorities concerned to ensure that no delay is caused in the Phase IV metro project and the total land cost of Rs. 2,447.19 crore is released immediately.
The center and the Delhi government both were directed by the bench to work out the modalities and release the amount of land lost within three weeks. On Independence Day Mr. Kejiriwal announced that rides on DTC and cluster buses will be free for women from October 29. The Delhi assembly has passed the government’s supplementary demands for grants of Rs. 290 crore for free travel for women passengers in buses and metro stations.