Dispute holds up launch of common mobility card

Card will provide seamless connectivity between public buses and metro trains

Published - August 11, 2018 11:37 pm IST

NEW DELHI, 09/11/2017: Transport Minister of Delhi Govt. Kailash Gahlot addressing a news conference on an important issue of Odd-Even at Delhi Secretariat in New Delhi on Thursday. 
Photo: Shiv Kumar Pushpakar

NEW DELHI, 09/11/2017: Transport Minister of Delhi Govt. Kailash Gahlot addressing a news conference on an important issue of Odd-Even at Delhi Secretariat in New Delhi on Thursday. Photo: Shiv Kumar Pushpakar

A disagreement between the Transport Department officials and the Minister over the name and design of the common mobility card, intended to provide seamless connectivity between public buses and Delhi Metro trains, has allegedly put the brakes on the roll out of the eight-year-old initiative.

Promised in time for the Commonwealth Games of 2010, the delay in the project has, government sources said, been compounded further pushing its intended inauguration beyond mid-August.

Further delayed

“The project was expected to be rolled out around Independence Day but will now be delayed due to a disagreement between Transport Secretary Varsha Joshi and Transport Minister Kailash Gahlot over procedural norms that were not followed in choosing a private company to design the new common mobility card,” a government official claimed.

Neither the Transport Department nor the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) were part of the process of the allotment of the designing contract to a company which intends to print its name and logo on these cards, the official alleged.

‘Roll out on track’

“The service provider was chosen by the Minister without competitive bidding, which is against norms. Recently, the proposed engagement of cluster buses was also done without a tender,” the official said.

When asked for comment on the issue, Mr. Gahlot told The Hindu that while a disagreement had occurred in relation to the design of the new common card, the use of existing Delhi Metro cards on buses would be rolled out soon.

“Irrespective of the disagreement over design, given the multiplicity of departments involved, all Delhi Transport Corporation [DTC] and cluster buses have been equipped with Electronic Ticketing Machines [ETMs] and we are thinking about launching the project very soon,” Mr. Gahlot said.

Meeting in July

The Minister added that the process of designing new cards, which the DMRC would need a month to print, could continue separately while existing Delhi Metro cards could be allowed on buses.

The Hindu has accessed the minutes of a meeting held at Mr. Gahlot’s office on July 10, attended by him, Ms. Joshi and DMRC Managing Director Mangu Singh, other officials and representatives of the private company.

Deliberations on the name and the proposed tag line to be printed on these cards was on the agenda.

According to a government source present at the meeting, Ms. Joshi and Mr. Singh were presented ten potential designs for the proposed common mobility card and asked to choose one; which they did.

The government source said, the proposed name of the card was ‘Yatri’ and the tag line ‘One Delhi One Ride’ in both Hindi and English was also decided upon.

Procedural Oversight

After the meeting, the source said, officials in the Transport Department realised that “procedural norms had been overlooked” and even if the private company did the design work pro bono, its association with the card, especially in terms of a media campaign around it, could give it immense mileage.

“The company’s logo would get a chance to be seen by over 60 lakh commuters who will use it in Delhi day in and out,” argued another official.

The Department, a week later, wrote to Mr. Gahlot stating that Ms. Joshi was not in agreement with the decision taken in the July 10 meeting.

“In the instant case, the proposal has been initiated from the office of Hon’ble Minister (Transport) only and hence she was not aware about the background. It was also not discussed that the company is to be engaged by Transport Department,” the communication stated further. The Department also maintained that there was a need to conduct a design competition as written in the General Financial Rules (GFR) issued by the Centre.

Delinked from design

As a result, a senior government official said, the proposed use of Metro cards on DTC and cluster buses and the design of the common card were “delinked” after the disagreement between the Minister and the department.

The company, according to the official, had also agreed to a non-disclosure agreement that would prevent it from publicising the same but the Department was not convinced.

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