Earlier this week, rules were released as the State government gets ready to introduce Shakti, the programme that would let women ride for free in State-run road transport corporations, on June 11. The first of the Congress‘s five pre-election “guarantees,” Shakti, will be implemented.
The government announced two additional “guarantees,” Yuva Nidhi, a programme encouraging job creation, and Anna Bhagya, which guarantees 10 kg of food per head for homes with BPL cards. These GOs (government orders) were issued following the State Cabinet’s approval of the five “guarantees” gradual implementation on June 2.
The government has asked the RTCs to accept any identity card issued by the Central or State government that carries the beneficiary’s photograph and address up until that point in order to issue “zero tickets” (free tickets), even though it plans to issue “Shakti Smart Cards” after receiving applications from women, including students, through the Seva Sindhu portal. The government has mandated that the smart card issue be finished in three months.
According to the government, the RTCs will be reimbursed based on the distance female passengers have travelled. Free travel within the State is restricted for women who reside in Karnataka. They can use the RTCs’ expedited and general transportation services.
Only Up To 20 km
On Saturday, Chief Minister Siddaramaiah clarified that they can only travel for free within the border states for up to 20 kilometres. The Chief Minister added that if a woman wanted to go to Tirupati, she could not go for free.
He claimed the service was not free if women wanted to take interstate buses. He said she could travel as far as Mulbagal (Kolar district that borders Andhra Pradesh), beyond which it is unavailable. However, there are no fees for trips up to 20 kilometres inside adjoining states.
Buses Which Are Excluded
The Shakti plan only applies to Karnataka’s standard public bus services. The following buses are not included in this programme: Airavat, Airavat Club Class, Airavat Gold Class, Ambari, Ambari Dream Class, Ambari Utsav, Fly Bus, Vayu Vajra, Vajra, Non-AC Sleeper, Rajahamsa, and EV Power Plus AC buses.
The Shakti scheme does not apply to buses outside of the State. On KSRTC, NWKRTC, and KKRTC regular and express buses, 50% of the seats would be set aside for men.