Bombay high court strikes down fare hike for Mumbai Metro’s Ghatkopar-Versova route
A fare fixation committee had, in July 2015, said that the fare must be hikedmumbai Updated: Dec 05, 2017 09:52 IST
The Bombay high court on Monday struck down the July 2015 decision of the Fare Fixation Committee (FFC) to allow the Reliance-Infrastructure-led Mumbai Metro One Private Limited (MMOPL) to hike fares for the Ghatkopar-Versova corridor and charge passengers in the Rs10 to 110 band.
The division bench of Chief Justice Manjula Chellur and justice Mahesh Sonak has now asked the central government to notify a new FFC, which in turn has been ordered to fix a new fare structure for the metro corridor within three months. Until then, MMOPL will continue to charge the present fares.
Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA) and Congress leader Sanjay Nirupam had approached the high court challenging the fares fixed by the FFC for the metro corridor on various grounds.
After the FFC declared its decision, MMOPL had announced a hike in fares from December 1, 2015, and had proposed five slabs — Rs10, 20, 25, 35 and 45, instead of the then prevailing four slabs of Rs10, 20, 30 and 40. This proposed fare hike was, however, withheld after the MMRDA approached the high court.
The MMRDA had challenged the fare proposal put forth by MMOPL before the FFC, contending that the metro rail operator had sought to convert the public utility project into a commercial, profit-making affair by including at least five items of expenses in its proposal for fixing fares for the city’s first metro corridor, which should not have been included.
“It is not a project to carry a lakh of air-conditioned car users,” MMRDA had claimed. “It is meant for the general public.” The authority further argued that the agreement between MMRDA and MMOPL envisaged charging one-and-a-half times the fares of ordinary BEST buses, but in its application to the FFC, the metro operator had sought fares at a par with air-conditioned BEST buses.
MMRDA pointed out that the five items covered expenses to the extent of Rs470 crore of the total expenses of Rs692 crore shown by the metro operator in its proposal, and because of that, a majority of FFC members held the metro service should be placed above the air-conditioned BEST buses with higher fares.
The metro operator, on the other hand, had claimed that justified the fare structure approved by the FFC contending that due to escalation of project costs, it was “bleeding financially” and suffered a loss of Rs90 lakh a day. It claimed that in the past three years, it suffered a loss of around Rs1000 crore.