Karnataka Transport Minister Ramalinga Reddy reaffirms continuation of Shakti Scheme

In response to social media rumours and calls from within Congress to review guarantee schemes, Mr. Reddy assures that the Shakti scheme, benefiting lakhs of women, will remain operational

Updated - June 10, 2024 04:04 pm IST

Published - June 10, 2024 03:29 pm IST - Bengaluru

People boarding a KSRTC bus at Kukke Subrahmanya in Dakshina Kannada district of Karnataka.

People boarding a KSRTC bus at Kukke Subrahmanya in Dakshina Kannada district of Karnataka. | Photo Credit: H S MANJUNATH

Karnataka Transport Minister Ramalinga Reddy asserted that the Shakti scheme, offering free travel in non-luxury government buses to women in the State, will continue.

His clarification comes following some rumours being spread on social media that the scheme will be stopped as the Lok Sabha elections are over. Apart from this, Congress leader M. Lakshman, who lost the Lok Sabha election in Mysuru-Kodagu Lok Sabha constituency, had urged Chief Minister Siddaramaiah to review implementation of guarantee schemes in the State.

Mr. Lakshman had said that the mandate from the people in the Lok Sabha elections was against continuation of guarantee schemes. “The guarantee schemes should be reviewed and restricted only to the needy and poor people in Karnataka,” he had said. 

In response, Mr. Reddy said, “The guarantee schemes of our government were not launched to garner votes. We will not discontinue the Shakti scheme. People are suffering due to the price hikes by the Central government under Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Our guarantee schemes were launched to help the people, especially the poor and middle class.”  

Mr. Reddy told The Hindu that the Shakti scheme is one of the most successful initiatives in Karnataka, benefiting lakhs of women across the State. “Mr. Siddaramaiah has allocated ₹5,500 crore in the budget for the Shakti scheme. It will continue as long as our Congress government is in power,” he added.

The Congress announced the Shakti scheme in its manifesto for the 2023 Karnataka Assembly elections as part of five guarantees. These guarantees, including the Shakti scheme, are believed to have contributed to the Congress winning a comfortable majority and forming the government in Karnataka.

At the first Cabinet meeting of the newly-formed government on May 20, 2023, a decision was taken to implement the five guarantees promised in the Congress party’s poll manifesto.

In the subsequent Cabinet meeting on June 2, 2023, the government decided to implement all five guarantees during that financial year, beginning with the Shakti scheme on June 11, 2023.

Under this scheme, women and transgenders  can travel for free in non-premium State-run bus services across Karnataka.

The free travel scheme is limited to women who are domiciled in Karnataka. They can travel on general and express bus services operated by State-run Road Transport Corporations within the State by showing any identity card issued by the Central or State Government that carries the photograph and address of the beneficiary, and get a ‘zero ticket’ (free ticket) from the conductor. 

A total of 225,15,97,273 women passengers travelled free in RTC buses from June 11, 2023 to June 9, 2024. The cost to the State exchequer was ₹5481,40,62,803 in this period.

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