After the Karnataka government issued a Government Order (GO) saying women will need to apply for a smart card on Seva Sindhu portal to avail the free bus pass scheme, activists say it is a huge entry barrier for women.
On Monday June 5, guidelines were issued by the government for the Shakti scheme, which will be the first of the five pre-poll guarantees given by the Congress to be implemented on June 11. The scheme will allow free travel for women in buses run by the State–run road transport corporations.
According to the GO, the government intends to issue ‘Shakti Smart Card’ after receiving applications from women, including students, through the Seva Sindhu portal. It has asked the RTCs to accept any identity card issued by the Central or State government that carries the photograph and address of the beneficiary, and till then issue ‘zero ticket’ (free ticket). The government has directed the issuance of smart cards to be completed within three months.
Vinay K. Sreenivasa, a member of Bengaluru Bus Prayanikara Vedike (BBPV), said, “The scheme is radical, and has transformatory potential. But, guidelines say all women bus users will need to apply on Seva Sindhu portal for a smart card. This is a huge entry barrier for women. It’s not needed and is unacceptable.
“This scheme is supposed to be especially for those who cannot afford to travel by bus, and those who face restrictions at home. It’s not easy for a single woman, from a BPL household, in a village, to apply on Seva Sindhu portal. Can the government even issue 2-3 crore cards in three months?”
Citing a similar scheme in Delhi, Mr Sreenivasa said, “In Delhi, they track numbers by issuing a ticket of a different colour. Why can’t we just do that? Why demand ID proof or smart card, and why restrict to domicile?”
The government will reimburse the RTCs on the basis of actual distance travelled by women passengers.
What is Shakti scheme
The scheme will allow free travel for women in State–run road transport corporations starting June 11.
Women passengers should apply for a ‘Shakti Smart Card’ on Seva Sindhu portal.
Till the smart card is issued, women can travel using any identity card issued by the Central or State government that carries the photograph and address of the beneficiary while RTCs will issue a ‘zero ticket’ (free ticket).
The government has directed RTCs to issue the smart cards within three months.
Free travel is restricted within the State for women who are domicile of Karnataka. They will be able to travel in general and express services operated by RTCs.
The scheme is not available in Rajahamsa, non-AC sleeper, Vajra, Vayu Vajra, Airavatha, Airavatha Club Class, Airavatha Gold Class, Ambaari, Ambaari Dream Class, Ambaari Utsav, Fly Bus, EV Power Class.
The government has reserved 50% of the seats for women, which they are eligible to avail in all RTCs, except BMTC services.