The Delhi BJP and the AAP are once again in midst of a bitter spat. This time the BJP has accused the Kejriwal government of evading its responsibility on the issue of metro fare hike and trying to mislead the people by playing “dirty politics”.
Delhi unit chief Manoj Tiwari and Leader of the Opposition in Assembly Vijender Gupta, in a statement according to a PTI news report, said that the Delhi government has a 50 per cent stake in DMRC and there can be no fare hike without its consent.
However, the Kejriwal government has taken the stand that it had opposed any hike in fares in the Fare Fixation Committee meeting held in September last year.
The Delhi CM has said that the committee ought not to have overlooked the Delhi government’s objections to the hike in metro fares.
Tiwari and Gupta have said they will meet DMRC chief Mangu Singh to demand withdrawal of the hike which is proposed to come into effect from 10 October.
They have also said that the proposed hike be put on hold till the completion of the third phase of Delhi metro.
Both claimed that with the prior consent of the Delhi government, its chief secretary, finance secretary and the transport commissioner joined the DMRC’s Fare Fixation Committee meeting and approved a 50 per cent raise in fares to be implemented in two phases — May and October 2017.
They alleged that the implementation date was postponed to May as the Delhi municipal polls were scheduled in April 2017.
Delhi Transport Minister Kailash Gehlot, meanwhile, has said in a statement that the Delhi Chief Secretary and transport commissioner were not present in the DMRC board meeting of 8 May when the decision to hike fares was taken.
The Delhi Metro fares were last revised in May. If the hike is effected, the fares will go up by a maximum of Rs 10 from 10 October.
The existing fare structure is: up to 2 kms-Rs 10, 2-5 kms-Rs 15, 5-12 kms-Rs 20, 12-21 kms-Rs 30, 21-32 kms-Rs 40 and for journeys beyond 32 kms-Rs 50.
From 10 October, for a distance of up to two kilometres, the fare will remain Rs 10, but for a distance between two and five kilometres, it will go up from Rs 15 to Rs 20.
For the subsequent slabs, it will go up by Rs 10 each, which means the maximum fare will be Rs 60.
The Delhi Metro, on its part, has been maintaining that it has a “huge loan liability” and a rapidly rising operating ratio, which means its expenditure as against every rupee earned is going up.
Meanwhile, Prioritising the need to maintain Delhi Metro and catering to Metro passengers over the simmering fare hike debate, Union minister for housing and urban affairs Hardeep Singh Puri remarked that if Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) does not increase fares, its service will soon resemble that of Delhi Transport Corporation (DTC) bus services.
“There has been no increase in metro fares for eight years. How will Delhi Metro run? There is one way to operate it like DTC and people are aware about DTC’s condition,” Puri reportedly said . The remark triggered reactions, with Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal demanding that the fare hike decision be withheld for at least two months, and that it be reviewed.