The three-member Fare Fixation Committee (FCC) of the Delhi Metro, set up barely a month ago to recommend a revision in passenger fares, wants to go on a whirlwind trip to Hong Kong, Singapore and Taipei to study the fare structure there.
The committee is headed by retired judge of Delhi high court justice ML Mehta and Delhi chief secretary KK Sharma and additional secretary in the Union urban development (UD) ministry DS Mishra are the other two members.
A little over a week after the FCC took charge on June 9, they sent a proposal to the UD ministry that they want to go on a three-nation tour in the second week of August to study the fare structure there before giving their recommendation.
Sources in the ministry said the proposal raised the hackles of both UD minister M Venkaiah Naidu and the ministry’s secretary Rajib Gauba, who wanted to know the urgency and the purpose such a trip will serve.
But Naidu, senior ministry officials who did not want to be quoted said, gave in after the members argued that it is not the first time that an FCC is going abroad to study fare structure.
“One of the members said that earlier committees had also gone on similar study tours after taking charge. The member said there has been a precedent,” ministry officials, who did not want to be quoted, told Hindustan Times.
Naidu and Gauba were not available for comments.
The Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) will fund the trip.
The last time Delhi Metro fares were revised was in 2009 when the minimum fare was increased from Rs 6 to Rs 8 and the maximum from Rs 22 to Rs 30. The DMRC has been requesting a fare increase since 2009 but hasn’t been able to do so as the Centre failed to set up an FCC.
Since 2009, electricity tariff has gone up by over 90%, accounting for almost 30% of DMRC’s total operating cost. It says it will run into losses if fares are not revised.
However, one hurdle still remains before the members fly off to their six-day Asian sojourn on August 6. The ministry of external affairs and the screening committee headed by the cabinet secretary are yet to give a green signal to the trip.
The committee has to submit its report on September 8.
This is the fourth FCC that has been set up by the government. FCCs are temporary in nature and is set up by the Centre only when a metro rail corporation requests a fare hike.