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  • The city has been notorious for women's safety since the 2012 gang rape and murder of a female student on a Delhi bus that sparked major protests.

    The city has been notorious for women's safety since the 2012 gang rape and murder of a female student on a Delhi bus that sparked major protests. | Photo: Reuters

Published 3 June 2019

The measure will be rolled out in the next two-to-three months for around 850,000 women.

Almost a million women will enjoy free public transport as part of an attempt to make the Indian capital safer, New Delhi's government said Monday.

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Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal said it would cost about US$115 million a year but would improve security and cut traffic pollution. 

"Women will be allowed to travel free of cost so that they have safe travel experience," Kejriwal said at a press conference, adding that the regional government is also looking to install 150,000 CCTV cameras across the capital this year.

India has a grim record of sexual violence, as highlighted by the gang rape and murder of a woman on a Delhi bus in 2012. On average, more than 100 rapes were reported each day in 2016, according to the most recent official figures.

Victims are often threatened by the perpetrators against reporting the incidents to the authorities. As well as facing a slow judiciary and lax policing system who also fail the victims, experts say.

Yet some accuse Kejriwal, head of the small Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), of making the gesture to win votes in state elections expected in January. Kejriwal's party won a landslide victory in 2015 state elections when it offered free drinking water, subsidized electricity and healthcare, and better education for the poor.

It also promised to improve women's security after the 2012 Delhi gang rape.

But the AAP failed to make a breakthrough in a national election in April-May when conservative Prime Minister Narendra Modi won a second landslide, including Delhi. The AAP is expected to face a stiff challenge from Modi's Bharatiya Janata Party in the state polls.​​​​​​​

The National Capital Territory (NCT) of Delhi, home to nearly 20 million people, has a rickety public transport system, and the doubling of some metro fares in recent months has forced many people onto the streets. As well, as being one of the world's most polluted cities, according to United Nation studies.

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