Women in Karnataka can travel for free on government-run buses in the state from Sunday, with the administration rolling out the first of the five poll guarantees of the ruling Congress — "Shakti" scheme.
The free travel service will benefit more than 41.8 lakh women passengers every day and would cost the state exchequer an estimated ₹4,051.56 crore annually, officials said. The scheme is available for women, who are domiciled in Karnataka, for the journey within the State limits after 1 pm today.
Chief Minister Siddaramaiah launched the scheme, which will provide free rides for women and girl students of the state in government buses, from the grand steps of Vidhana Soudha, the seat of Karnataka legislature and secretariat here.
Deputy Chief Minister D K Shivakumar, Transport Minister Ramalinga Reddy were among others present at the event, where logo of the Shakti scheme was unveiled and Shakti smart cards were symbolically issued to five women.
Women can apply for the Shakti Smart Card by registering on the ‘Seva Sindhu’ government portal. The CM has directed all district in-charge ministers to launch the scheme in their respective districts and the legislators to launch it in their constituencies.
The government noted that this scheme will reduce the travel expenses of working women from poor and lower middle class, and as the savings can be used for household expenses, the scheme has brought smiles on women's faces.
The other four guarantees are — 200 units of free power to all households (Gruha Jyoti), ₹2,000 monthly assistance to the woman head of every family (Gruha Lakshmi), 10 kg of rice free to every member of a BPL household (Anna Bhagya), ₹3,000 every month for unemployed graduates and ₹1,500 for unemployed diploma holders, both in the age group of 18-25 (YuvaNidhi).
According to officials, all women, including girl students, without any discrimination on the basis of caste, religion caste, can avail the facility.
Gender Minorities are also included in the scheme, they said. The free travel service can be availed in city transport, ordinary and express buses which accounts to 18,609 buses in all four state-owned Road Transport Corporations (KSRTC, BMTC, NWKRTC and KKRTC).
Until smart cards are issued, free bus travel can be availed by producing a valid photo identity card issued by Government of India, Government of Karnataka or Government-owned offices, and getting a zero value ticket.