NEW DELHI :
In a Raksha Bandhan gift for women, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal on Thursday announced that rides on DTC and cluster buses will be free for them from October 29.
Delivering the last Independence Day speech of his term at Chhatrasal Stadium here, Kejriwal said his government is also working on its decision to provide free rides to women in the Delhi Metro.
"On the day of Raksha Bandhan, I want to give a gift to our sisters that there will be free rides for women on all DTC (Delhi Transport Corporation) and cluster buses from October 29, the occasion of Bhai Dooj, which will ensure their safety," the chief minister said.
Kejriwal had announced free rides for women in public transport buses and Delhi Metro in June.
There are 5,500 buses, including of 3,800 of the Delhi Transport Corporation and over 1,600 cluster (orange) buses operated by the Delhi Integrated Multi-Modal Transit System.
"With this move, our sisters will be able to fulfil their dreams because they have to travel long distances for their studies and work," Kejriwal said.
Speaking about those opposing his government's free ride scheme, the chief minister said, "Their first point was that everything is being made free. I want to say to them that I am not splurging or stealing money."
He added that it is the public's tax money which was earlier stolen and he has saved it to facilitate people.
Kejriwal said he was being questioned by many on grounds of gender equality.
Asserting that there is no gender equality in the country, he said, "In Delhi's working population, women account for only 11 per cent while around 90 per cent are men."
"Currently, only 30 per cent of women and 70 per cent of men travel in public transport buses and metro trains. Our free ride scheme will significantly help women realise their dreams," he added.
Kejriwal also said the scheme will strengthen the economy which is going through a slowdown as women will travel more for shopping.
A government official said the proposal of free rides for women in DTC and cluster buses will soon be tabled before the Cabinet for approval.