Mumbai Metro to chug today amid fare row

Mumbai Metro to chug today amid fare row

Decks have been cleared for the inauguration of the Mumbai Metro rail, but the Maharashtra government has moved the Bombay High Court opposing a proposed tariff hike by private developer Reliance Infrastructure. 

The government gave conditional nod for the Metro’s commercial operations on Sunday.The inauguration was planned following the Railway Ministry’s safety and security clearance.

Giving his conditional nod to inaugurate the first line of the metro rail between north-west and north-east suburbs of Versova, Andheri and Ghatkopar, Maharashtra Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan said: “I have agreed to inaugurate the first line of Mumbai Metro only if the company charges fares as per the rates agreed in the concession agreement signed between MMOPL and MMRDA, the nodal agency for the project.”

The initial cost of the 11.4-km project stood at Rs 2,356 crore, but escalated to Rs 4,321 crore owing to delay in execution by three-and-a-half years. 

It took seven years to complete the project against the original deadline of December 2010. Land acquisition, shifting of utility lines and getting permission for constructing an overbridge at Andheri delayed the project.

At a press conference on Saturday, Chavan said, “As per the concession agreement signed between MMRDA and MMOPL, fares were fixed between Rs 9 and 13”.

However, he explained that the MMOPL is demanding that it should be allowed to charge fare between Rs 10 and Rs 40 owing to increase in the cost of project executed by Anil Ambani-controlled R-Infra. 

Meanwhile, MMOPL executives have maintained that the network operator would be now fixing the fares for this project as it is notified under the Central Metro Act. The state government has been advised by the Central government that the fare shall be fixed afresh and as per the Central Metro Act. 

Govt’s stand

Chavan said his government’s stand is clear — MMOPL should first roll out the service and then move the tariff fixation committee (TFC), headed by a retired high court judge, to present its case for any revision of charges. 

“Obviously, we are opposed to this stand of MMOPL. MMRDA has moved a petition in the Bombay High Court and requested the court to restrain MMOPL from implementing any arbitrary tariff hike. The MMRDA’s petition will come up for hearing on Monday,” Chavan informed. 

Greater Mumbai, which covers Colaba in the south to Mulund and Dahisar in the north and Mankhurd in the east, with a population of 16.4 million, houses twice as many people as New York City, says the website of consulting firm EY. 

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