Kejriwal says Delhi Metro fare hike anti-people, directs minister to prevent it
Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal took to Twitter calling the proposed Metro fare hike ‘anti-people’. He said transport minister Kailash Gahlot had been asked to prevent the implementation of the new fares in October.delhi Updated: Sep 29, 2017 12:02 IST
Delhi cief minister Arvind Kejriwal called plans to increase metro fares from next month “anti-people” and said on Thursday his government will attempt to stop it, setting up a confrontation with the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) that stood firm on its decision.
The DMRC, metro’s operator, is set to hike fares for those travelling more than two kilometres by Rs 5-10 from October 10, the second increase in eight years. The metro is regarded as the national capital’s lifeline, carrying 27 lakh passengers every month.
“Metro fare hike is anti-people. Have directed transport minister Kailash Gahlot to find a solution to stop the fare hike in a week’s time,” he tweeted.
Soon, other political parties joined the issue. The Delhi unit of the Bharatiya Janata Party, Swaraj India — a breakaway group of Kejriwal’s Aam Aadmi Party — and the Bharatiya Mazoodoor Sangh, the labour union of Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, supported the CM’s position.
The Delhi and the Union governments have an equal stake in the DMRC, and the decision to hike fares was taken by a Fare Fixation Committee that had representatives from both.
मेट्रो किराया बढ़ोतरी जनविरोधी। ट्रान्स्पोर्ट मंत्री कैलाश गहलोत को आदेश दिए हैं कि एक हफ़्ते में किराया बढ़ोतरी को रोकने के उपाय निकालें— Arvind Kejriwal (@ArvindKejriwal) September 28, 2017
On Thursday, Kejriwal suggested that his government opposed the hike and directed Gahlot to find out why their view was ignored.
It is unclear if that opinion was expressed during the DMRC board’s meetings, which was attended by Delhi government’s principal secretary (finance), but the government is known to have expressed it earlier. On June 30, 2016, the government sent a letter to the DMRC’s managing director saying that a fare increase will hurt ridership and push commuters to personal vehicles.
Following Kejriwal’s directions, Gahlot met DMRC chief Mangu Singh and issued an order “to put on hold any further hike till Delhi government completes its enquiry and forms an opinion on the subject.”
Singh, however, said the hike will be carried out as planned since all procedure had been followed. “I explained the transport minister about the recommendations of the Fare Fixation Committee. As of now the fare hike stays and will happen as planned,” he said.
On May 8, the DMRC board approved the recommendation of the fare fixation committee that decided fares will be increased on the network in two rounds. The first took place on May 10, when minimum ticket costs were raised from Rs 8 to Rs 10 and the maximum from Rs 30 to Rs 50.
The second was set for October 10.
“Metro fares were increased on May 10. It is not fair to give people another shock in just four months. The second hike should have been implemented in May, 2018,” Gahlot said.
His order is likely to have no impact on hike since Section 37 of the Delhi Metro O&M Act, 2002 states that “the recommendations of the Fare Fixation Committee shall be binding on the metro railway administration”.
Delhi BJP’s Manoj Tiwari urged DMRC to roll back the decision, as did the Yogedra Yadav- and Prashant Bhushan-led Swaraj India and a number of Resident Welfare Associations (RWAs).
“Delhi has already broken all records in pollution. With the fare hike people will shift to cars, “ said Virjesh Upadhyay, general secretary of Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh.
“Delhi and the entire National Capital Region lacks reliable public transport except metro rail. The steep hike will affect monthly budgets. They should improve public transport and make it more affordable rather than increasing fares” said Ritesh Dewan, secretary, Delhi Residents Forum.