Even as the final clearance from the Commissioner of Railway Safety is expected shortly, the much-delayed Mumbai Metro is set to be postponed further as the state administration has turned down the operator Reliance Infrastructure’s demand for a steep hike in fares.
RInfra’s arm Mumbai MetroOne has sought almost a two-fold increase in fares compared to the fare already notified by the state government.
As per the notification, the minimum fare would be Rs. 9 and maximum Rs. 13 in the initial year of operations. Then after every four year, the fare will increase by 11 per cent and at the end of the concession period– that is by 2044-45– the minimum fare would be Rs. 24 and maximum Rs. 37.
However, according to sources, RInfra has sought a steep revision in the fares with minimum Rs. 22 and maximum Rs. 33, citing a near-doubling of its cost.
“The company has sought higher fare citing huge cost escalation. But the government has already notified the fares so there is no question of any revision,” Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority additional commissioner Sanjay Sethi said.
The minimum fare was already revised upwards from the original proposed Rs. 6 to Rs. 9 in the initial period.
RInfra had argued that due to cost escalation as well as inflation, it would be difficult for them to sustain at the government notified rates.
The cost of the project, which was earlier estimated at Rs. 2,356 crore, jumped 82 per cent to Rs. 4,291 crore, largely due to delays in securing right-of-way from the Railways and civil authorities, as well as various other approvals from the Railways.
The company approached the Research, Design and Standards Organisation of the Railways this February and got the approval on April 2.
The project is now awaiting the go-ahead from the Commissioner of Railway Safety, currently carrying out safety checks.
When contacted, a Mumbai MetroOne spokesperson said, “We are ready to start operations subject to final safety approval from CMRS.”
The company is opposing the fares fixed by the government and wants it to be revised as per the provisions of the Central Metro Act, as is done for other metros in the country including Delhi, Bangalore and Chennai.
“The fare shall be fixed as per the provisions of the Central Metro Act, which are applicable to the project,” the spokesperson said.