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Wednesday, Aug 21, 2019

Delhi Metro fares increased, rides get costlier from today

The Delhi assembly passed on Monday a resolution against the proposed Metro fare hike.

delhi Updated: Oct 10, 2017 08:45 IST
Moushumi Das Gupta
Moushumi Das Gupta
New Delhi, Hindustan Times
Members of the NSUI protest against the proposed hike in the fares of Delhi Metro, at Vishwavidhyalaya station on Monday.
Members of the NSUI protest against the proposed hike in the fares of Delhi Metro, at Vishwavidhyalaya station on Monday.(Sushil Kumar/HT PHOTO)

Starting Tuesday, Delhi Metro rides will become costlier by a maximum of Rs 10 for those travelling over two kilometres in the city.

In an emergency meeting conducted late on Monday, the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) board decided by majority that it is not “competent” to roll back or defer the proposed fare hike. This development has brought down the curtains on a 10-day-long political confrontation between the Delhi government and the Centre on the issue.

Chief minister Arvind Kejriwal, who had expressed his opposition to the proposed hike in two missives to Union housing and urban affairs minister Hardeep Singh Puri, openly disapproved of the board’s decision. “Out of 16 (board members), Delhi govt had 5 directors who opposed (the move). But the Centre is adamant. Hike too steep. Centre shud hv been more considerate towards common man,” he tweeted soon after the meeting concluded.

The decision of the board, headed by housing and urban affairs secretary DS Mishra, came close on the heels of the Delhi assembly passing a resolution against the proposed fare hike earlier in the day. Metro fares are set to increase by anywhere between Rs 5 and Rs 10 for those travelling over two kilometres from Tuesday. This, incidentally, is the second instance of a fare hike this year. On May 8, the DMRC board had approved the recommendation of the Fare Fixation Committee (FFC) that the fare be increased 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.

Sources said Delhi chief secretary MM Kutty, who represented the AAP government on the DMRC board, conveyed chief minister Arvind Kejriwal’s message that the fare hike be rolled back because it is “anti-people”. However, the board rejected the Delhi government’s stand by citing Section 37 of the Metro Railways (Operations and Maintenance) Act-2002 – which states that the FFC’s recommendations are “binding”, “sacrosanct” and not subject to the Centre’s intervention.

Kejriwal’s confrontation with the Centre began when he wrote to Puri on September 30, seeking reconsideration of the proposed hike. In his response, the Union minister said it was “legally untenable” to place the fare hike on hold because the FFC’s recommendations were binding under the Delhi Metro Act.

Puri, however, said the Centre could consider setting up a new FFC to take a re-look at the proposed hike if the Delhi government agreed to shell out an annual sum of Rs 3,000 crore for the next five years – so the DMRC can pay off its loans and bridge over operational losses.

The DMRC is afflicted with depleted savings, a Rs 45,000-crore debt, and a rising operating ratio that leaves little for maintenance work. It needs to raise Rs 16,104 crore over the next five years to fulfill several financial commitments, including repaying loan liabilities to the Japan International Cooperation Agency and meeting operational expenses.

The slugfest continued on Saturday, with Kejriwal again writing to Puri with a suggestion that the Delhi government be allowed to take over DMRC operations to ensure “efficient performance”. He also mooted an alternative plan, wherein the Delhi government would provide half the funds required by the Metro authorities so long as the Centre shells out a matching amount.

Puri rejected the new suggestion on Monday, stating that the guidelines for sanctioning Metro rail projects clearly indicate that operational losses are the sole responsibility of state governments. “The harassed people of the national capital are in dire need of effective mobility solutions. The DMRC has offered one such solution, and people are asking for more. Politicisation of issues does not help anyone,” he wrote back.

The DMRC had been requesting a fare hike since 2009, but wasn’t been able to do so in the absence of a fare panel. Electricity tariff has gone up by over 90% in the last eight years, accounting for almost 30% of the DMRC’s total operating costs.

DMRC sources said their operating ratio in the 2016-17 fiscal stood at approximately 76%. It reportedly came down to 65% after the first fare revision in May.

First Published: Oct 10, 2017 00:00 IST

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