With the Delhi Metro fare hike set to come into effect tomorrow (October 10), the politics over the matter is on the boil. The recent controversy has once again put the Delhi chief minister at loggerheads with the central government.
The second hike in Metro fares in less than six months forced Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal to come out in support of people battling the brunt of inflation and demand that the move be put on hold. In its response, the Centre told Kejriwal that his government should shoulder the burden of the financial loss that will be incurred if the hike is put on hold.
Interestingly, the state unit of the BJP — the party in power at the Centre — too sought a review of the move. The student wing of the Congress, the National Students Union of India (NSUI), also jumped into the controversy on Monday.
With politics over the issue heating up, it remains to be seen how the matter spans out in the coming days.
Here’s a rundown to what the controversy is all about:
1) The fare fixation committee recommended a two-phase fare hike. The first increase came into effect in May.
2) The maximum fare then was hiked from Rs 30 to Rs 50.
3) After the hike in May, the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) saw a steep fall in the ridership with the number of passengers falling from 27 lakhs per day in June 2016 to 25 lakhs per day in June 2017 - a fall of 2 lakh passengers.
4) According to the DMRC, in the second phase the fare will be increased by a maximum of Rs 10. The minimum fare will be Rs 10 and the maximum would be Rs 60. For travel distance of less than two kilometres, the fare will remain Rs 10. For distances between two and five kilometres, it will go up from Rs 15 to Rs 20. For all other distance zones, fares will be increased by Rs 10, with the maximum fare for journeys longer than 32kms going up from Rs 50 to Rs 60.
5) What has raised tempers this time is opposition from people and the Delhi government.
6) Hours after Kejriwal directed his transport minister Kailash Gehlot to look into the matter, Delhi BJP chief, Manoj Tiwari, also asked the DMRC management to review its decision. National Students' Union of India (NSUI) members disrupted train services on Monday in protest against the fare hike.
Delhi NSUI protested against metro fare hike, inside Vishwa Vidyalaya metro station pic.twitter.com/0x3ogJgofQ— NSUI (@nsui) October 9, 2017
7) However, Union housing and urban affairs minister Hardeep Singh Puri told the Delhi government that it would need to pay Rs 3,000 crore annually for five years if it wanted to stop the hike.
8) In his reply, chief minister Kejriwal said his government would pay half the amount if the Centre agrees to pay the other half.
9) The DMRC says doubling the fares is essential to keep it financially viable and pay back the Japanese loan.
10) The Delhi Metro, which has been operational in the capital since 2002, is at present carrying around 27 lakh passengers every day, and has become the lifeline of the city with a punctuality of over 99.7 per cent. However, since 2009, there has been no increase in fare, whereas the input cost for the DMRC has increased by over 105 per cent in energy, 139 per cent in staff cost and by 213 per cent for repair and maintenance.
The ongoing war of words between the parties shows that no political outfit wants to be left behind when it comes to be seen as the champion of the people’s cause.
However, with the cost of operations hitting the roof for the DMRC, it remains to be seen if the parties can reach a middle ground.