Mumbai Metro may start soon as RInfra allowed to fix fares
The Centre has allowed Reliance Infrastructure-promoted Mumbai Metro to decide its own fare structure
This will allow RInfra to fix the fares at higher rate than the one notified by the state government. The company today expressed hope that it will be able to operationalize the much-delayed Metro in May with the development.
Fare was one of the issues that had delayed the commencement of Metro services.
“The Union Urban Department ministry has brought the Mumbai MetroOne under the Central Metro Act, which allows us to fix the fare structure. Therefore, the fares notified by the state earlier are no longer applicable,” Mumbai MetroOne chief executive Abhay Mishra said.
As per the state government’s notification, the minimum fare was to be Rs 9 and maximum Rs 13 in the first year. Later, after every four years, the fares were to increase by 11 per cent and at the end of the 35-year concession period (2044-45) the minimum fare was to be Rs 24 and maximum Rs 37.
RInfra has been seeking a steep revision at minimum fare of Rs 22 and maximum fare of Rs 33, citing a near-doubling of the cost, to which the state was opposed.
The Centre, through a notification on February 7, had informed the state government that the Mumbai Metro will be governed by the Metro Railways (Construction of Works) Act of 1978, which makes the RInfra the administrator of the project which also can fix the fares afresh after obtaining a go ahead from the fare fixation committee (FFC).
Under the initial agreement between the state and RInfra, the state had the power to fix the fares.
The Central notification further clarified that for the initial fare fixation, no FFC recommendation is necessary. “However, for subsequent fare revisions, an FFC is a must,” it said.
Last week the city’s nodal development authority (MMDRA) had said that there was no question of it revising the fares upwards.
The new development could be an embarrassment for the Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority, as well as the state government, which would be facing Assembly elections later this year.
Mumbai Metro has roped in a consultant to recommend fares for the 11.4-km Versova-Andheri-Ghatkopar corridor, which has received all but the Railway Safety Commissioner’s approval to kick off the service.
“We expect to get the recommendations soon. Meanwhile, we will also receive the safety certificate from the Commissioner of Railway Safety, which has completed the inspection. We hope to commence operations in this month itself,” Mishra said.
The cost of the project, which was earlier estimated at Rs 2,356 crore, jumped by a whopping 82 per cent to Rs 4,291 crore, largely due to delays in securing right-of-way from the Railways and civil authorities, as well as various other approvals from the Railways.
On fare fixation, Mishra further said, “The metro company, in line with the principles established in othermetros, would fix the fares to ensure a sustainable operationwithout compromising quality and safety. The company is equally concerned regarding the affordability of the farekeeping in mind the benefit it offers to the commuters.”