‘Metro man’ E. Sreedharan has called the Delhi government’s proposal to make Metro rides free for women an “election gimmick”.
“I am not opposing the Delhi government’s proposal to bear the cost of free travel for women, but only objecting to the concept of free travel on the Metro,” a report in Hindustan Times quoted Sreedharan as saying in his reply to Delhi deputy chief minister Manish Sisodia’s letter to him on Thursday. “Your government may compensate the DMRC for losses due to free travel for women, but successor governments may not.”
Sreedharan pointed out that Delhi Metro was under a Rs 35,000 crore debt and providing free travel would set an alarming precedence for other metros in the country, which also carry “heavy debt burden”.
“If metros show signs of running into a debt trap, no loans will be forthcoming for our future metros,” the letter said.
Sisodia had written to Sreedharan last week, saying he was “surprised and pained” by Delhi Metro’s founding managing director not supporting the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) government’s plan to provide free travel to women on the Metro.
“The Delhi government will buy around a million coupons in bulk from the DMRC on a daily basis and provide these to women… Why should anyone have any objection to that?” Sisodia had said.
AAP leader Atishi hit back at Sreedharan on Friday and said his response seemed “political”.
“We responded to his (Sreedharan’s) letter because he is the ‘Metro Man’ and is a respectable figure in the country. We wanted to make him understand our rationale behind the scheme. It is surprising to see the Metro Man writing such a political letter,” Atishi said.
After chief minister Arvind Kejriwal had announced the scheme, Sreedharan, who is now the principal adviser of the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC), had written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi urging him not to allow the proposal.
In Thursday’s letter, Sreedharan also criticised the government for “destroying an efficient and successful public transport system for electoral gains”.
“Everybody knows this is an election gimmick to win votes of women in the next Assembly elections,” he said.