- Delhi government scheme under criticism over cost overruns
- "If there are freebies, there will be a problem", the Supreme Court said
- Government must ensure financial health of metro, it added
The Delhi government's scheme allowing women to travel for free on the metro rail network has come under heavy criticism from the Supreme Court for its potential to add to cost overruns.
The Delhi government should instead 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, the top court observed.
Taking a dig at the Arvind Kejriwal government, Justice Deepak Gupta -- one of the judges on the Bench headed by Justice Arun Mishra -- 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 centre.
"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," the bench observed.
The court, however, directed that the land cost for the 103.94-km-long Phase IV project would be borne by the centre and the Delhi government equally, in 50:50 ratio.
The bench asked 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 bench directed both the centre and the Delhi government to work out the modalities and release the amount of land cost within three weeks.
Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal had, in his Independence Day address, announced that rides on DTC and cluster buses would 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 trains.