Mumbaikars might have to shell out more money for Metro commute if the government fails to resolve the fare hike issue with MMOPL.
Even as Mumbai Metro was thrown open to public after a delay of 8 years but a controversy has already erupted over the proposed hike in passenger fares. Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan who initially had planned to skip the inaugural ceremony of the Metro due to tiff with Anil Ambani led Mumbai Metro One Private Ltd (MMOPL) over the fare hike issue later attended the function. He alleged that the BJP MP’s Gopal Shetty and Kirit Somaiya of helping MMOPL in fare hike. The tussle between the CM and MMOPL is yet to be resolved and there is a possibility that he might bend before the organisation. Chavan had given his nod for the inauguration of the project subject to the firm not hiking fares in the interest of commuters.
“As per the tender, RInfra has agreed to charge fares of Rs.9, Rs.11 and Rs.13 for the journey (depending on km). Now, they are planning to charge between Rs.10-Rs.40. This is totally unacceptable to us,” Chavan said.
Instead of addressing the fare hike issue, Chavan chose to pass the buck on BJP. He said, “The BJP must make its stand clear on the issue of fares and take responsibility for any hike in the ticket rates.”
Earlier, the CM had issued a veiled threat to MMOPL that the government would take over the metro installations if the company stuck to the fare hike.
The MMOPL had signed an agreement fixing the fare slabs at Rs. 9, Rs. 11 and Rs. 13. It later changed them to the rates Rs. 10, Rs. 20, Rs. 30 and Rs. 40. The State government has gone to court against the fare increase and has also sent a notice to the Reliance Group.
Constructed at a cost of Rs 4,300 crore, the 11.40 km metro line between Versova-Andheri-Ghatkopar was inaugurated at around 10 am yesterday. There will be 12 elevated metro station on the route between the two stations.
Meanwhile, the MMOPL issued a statement and stated that it is going ahead with the operation of the metro services and will be charging promotional fare of Rs 10 from customers for the first 30 days for single trip.
The MMOPL said it was forced to increase fares as a result of inflation. “When the rates were fixed, the operating cost for 2014 was projected at Rs. 100 crore. Now it has gone up to Rs. 240 crore,” said Debashish Mohanty, spokesperson of the Reliance Group. He said that they had the authority to fix the fares as per the Metro Railways (Operation and Maintenance) Act, 2002.
On the other hand BJP leader Vinod Tawde criticised Chavan for holding BJP responsible for the fare hike controversy. He said, “Why is he blaming us? He could not bring necessary permissions from the Centre during the UPA regime. We brought them in eight days. He is scared of losing credit,” said senior BJP leader Vinod Tawde.