Despite CM Arvind Kejriwal’s protest, Metro rides get costlier in Delhi-NCR

Despite CM Arvind Kejriwal’s protest, Metro rides get costlier in Delhi-NCR

New Delhi: Delhi Metro rides have now become costlier by a maximum of Rs 10 for those travelling over a distance of two kilometers, despite Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal’s repeated pleas to the Centre to avoid the move.

It has been learnt that in an emergency meeting conducted late on Monday night, the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) board determined that it will be imbalanced to roll back the proposed fare hike, adding to the woes of metro commuters who have been reaping the benefits of cheap rides. The decision puts to rest a fierce debate between the Metro authorities, Centre and the Delhi government, which proposed to bear half the cost (Approx. Rs 1,500 crore) and take over the operations.

Kejriwal had earlier expressed disenchantment over the proposed hike in two separate letters to Union Housing and Urban Affairs Minister Hardeep Singh Puri, and openly disregarded the board’s decision. However, after last night’s meeting of the Delhi Metro Fare Fixation Committee (FFC), a decision was taken to raise the fares, as considered earlier. Soon after the meeting, Kejriwal lashed out at the Centre for not considering the common man’s plight. “Out of 16 (board members), Delhi government had 5 directors who opposed (the fare hike move). But the Centre is adamant. Hike too steep. Centre shud hv  been more considerate towards common man,” he said in a tweet after the meeting concluded.

The decision taken by the board, came soon after the Delhi Assembly passed a resolution against the proposed fare hike earlier in the day. According to the second phase of metro fare revision in Delhi by the 4th Fare Revision Committee, metro fares are set to increase anywhere between Rs 5 and Rs 10 for those travelling over a distance of two kilometers. Barring the minimum fare of Rs 10 for the distance of 0-2 km – which will remain the same, commuters will have to pay Rs 5-10 extra for distance traveled further as per kilometer scheme set by the transporter.

While commuters pay Rs 15 for the distance traveled between 2-5 km, now they will have to pay Rs 20. The maximum fare has been increased to Rs 60 as compared to current Rs 50. Smart card users will continue to get 10 per cent discount and so will those who happen to use metro during non-peak hours – between the start of the metro service till 8 am, between 12 pm and 5 pm, and from 9 pm till the close of service.

(Here are the revised fares that commuters need to shell out starting today) 

Earlier on May 8, the DMRC board had approved the FFC’s recommendation to increase metro fares in two rounds; the first phase of the hike was implemented on May 10, leading to an increase of minimum fare by Rs 2 – From Rs 8 to Rs 10 – and maximum fare by Rs 20 (From Rs 30 to Rs 50). Kejriwal had time and again requested the government to roll back the “anti-people” move, which would have adverse consequences on the people of Delhi. This, however, was not taken into consideration by the Metro Board, which cited Section 37 of the Metro Railways (Operations and Maintenance) Act-2002.

Section 37 of the act suggests that the decisions taken by the FFC are “binding and sacrosanct” and not subject to Centre’s intervention. The battle between the Delhi government and the Centre began on September 30 when he wrote to Puri, requesting him to reconsider the proposed hike. However, the Union Minister, in his reply, said it was legally untenable to place the fare hike on hold, as the FFC’s recommendations cannot be ignored as per law.

Puri also said the Centre could reconsider the fare hike if Delhi government was ready to shell out an annual amount of Rs 3,000 crore for the next five years to support the metro project and help DMRC pay off loans and eliminate operational losses.

Loss-ridden business

It must be noted that the DMRC has been distressed with exhausted savings, including a whopping Rs 45,000 crore debt, with operational costs overshooting the income. As per various reports, the DMRC needs to raise approximately Rs 16,000 crore over the next five years to deal with financial commitments, which include repayment of the loan to the Japan International Cooperation Agency.

While his first letter could not influence Puri, Kejriwal penned another letter to Puri, suggesting that the Delhi government be allowed to take over DMRC operations to ensure “efficient performance” apart from bearing all costs.

Source:- Times Now News

 

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