Giving 'free rides' on Metro problematic: SC slams Delhi government
You can not be handing over sops to people and then fight in court for sharing losses with the Centre, the Supreme Court told Arvind Kejriwal-led Delhi government on Friday. The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) wanted the Centre to share 50% operational loss, if any, during the expansion of Delhi Metro's Phase IV. But the court didn't agree with this proposal. Here's what happened.
The bench based its statement on Kejriwal's decision to offer free rides to women, irrespective of their age, in Delhi Metro. In June, he announced the scheme, and said it would make the national capital "safer for women". This move reeked of appeasement, more so, because Assembly polls are due in Delhi next year. In fact, Metro man Sreedharan also called it "election gimmick".
Considering Kejriwal's fetish for handing out freebies, an SC bench headed by Justice Arun Mishra and including Justice Deepak Gupta opined that state government should work towards maintaining the financial health of Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) and ensure no steps are taken which might increase losses. "If you allow people to travel free then it will be a problem," Justice Gupta said.
"On one hand it (Delhi government) is extending sops but in court, it wants direction to Center to bear 50 percent operational losses, if ever incurred in future... if you give freebies then there will be a problem," the court added.
Further, Justice Mishra reminded the state government it handles public money. "The court is not powerless to order proper channelization of funds... self-treated bankruptcy should not come in the way," he added. Thereafter, the court said there's no harm if the state takes care of losses since the Metro is meant for roaming about in Delhi. "State is responsible for transport," the bench added.
While directing that state should make policies which don't cause any operational loss, the court said that both the governments should bear the land cost in 50:50 ratio. Notably, Phase IV phase will have six corridors - Aerocity to Tughlakabad, Inderlok to Indraprastha, Lajpat Nagar to Saket G Block, Mukundpur to Maujpur, Janakpuri West to RK Ashram and Rithala to Bawana and Narela.
The court also asked authorities to ensure there is no delay in the project, and the funds are released soon. The total land cost is Rs. 2,447.19 crore and the SC directed state and Centre to work out modalities to dispatch this within three weeks.