Millennium Post

Put fare hike on hold, audit DMRC accounts: CM

NEW DELHI: Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal on Sunday called for putting on hold the proposed hike in Delhi Metro fares till its accounts were audited.
He said an audit of the accounts of the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) was necessary as earlier private power distribution companies in the city had also hiked power tariffs by allegedly showing fake losses.
In a statement issued by the Delhi government, Kejriwal also stated that the income and expenditure details of DMRC should be made public.
The DMRC wants to hike fares as it has a "huge loan liability" and a rapidly rising operating ratio; meaning its expenditure as against every rupee earned is going up.
Kejriwal termed this contention by DMRC as "flawed", adding that the Metro needs to increase its efficiency.
He said that there is an immediate need for the Metro to maintain a balance between its operational needs and interests of its commuters.
Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia also opposed the fare hike, saying that the spirit of the Metro is not to profit but to provide a safe and reliable transport system.
Reacting to Union Urban Affairs Minister Hardeep Singh Puri's comment that the Centre won't let the Metro become another Delhi Transport Corporation (DTC), Sisodia said that the DTC may be suffering losses, but it was at least serving the people.
Sisodia said that if Metro ridership was coming down, as per RTI data, then its entire purpose to bring down the use of private vehicles is lost.
He said that the DMRC should go for property development, food courts and advertisements to generate revenue and not just passenger fares.
Sisodia and Kejriwal have suggested that the hike, proposed to come into effect on October 10, be put on hold for another three-four months, till the proposal is examined by the Central and Delhi governments.
If the fares are raised, ticket prices will go up by a maximum of Rs 10.
The Delhi government has asserted that it had opposed any hike in fares in the Fare Fixation Committee meeting held in September last year.
Moreover, Delhi Transport minister Kailash Gehlot said in a statement that the Delhi Chief Secretary and Transport Commissioner were not present in the DMRC board meeting on May 8, when the decision to hike fares was taken.
Urban ministry to examine issued raised by CM
NEW DELHI: The Urban Affairs Ministry will "examine the issues" raised by Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal over the proposed fare hike by the Delhi Metro, a senior official on Sunday said.
Terming the fare increase as "unacceptable", Kejriwal had written to Union Minister for Housing and Urban Affairs Hardeep Singh Puri, demanding that the decision be withheld and reviewed.
"The minister (Puri) has asked UD Secretary D S Mishra to examine the issues raised by Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal over the proposed fare hike," a ministry spokesperson told reporters.
Kejriwal has stiffly opposed the planned hike, to be effected from October 10, and on Saturday claimed that it would a violation of the recommendations of the fare-fixation panel.
"The fare-fixation committee had recommended a gap of one year between two fare hikes. This recommendation is being completely
violated because the proposed second hike in October, 2017 will take place even before six months since the previous fare hike," he said in the letter to Puri.
The committee, comprising representatives of both the state and the Centre, which have equal stakes in the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC), is entrusted with recommending fare hikes.
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 October 10, 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.
In his letter, Kejriwal had referred to the financial model of the Hong Kong Metro and suggested that following it would significantly improve DMRC's finances and lead to a much lower fare hike.
He also mentioned that his assertion was based on the "advise" of the fare-fixation panel.
"The fare-fixation committee has advised the DMRC to raise funds through real estate development from the large number of properties allotted to it by the government.
"If this is done efficiently and transparently, the resultant income will help reduce the fare of the ordinary commuter, as in the case of the Hong Kong Metro," the statement quoted the Chief Minister as saying.
Delhi govt misleading people on fare hike: BJP
NEW DELHI: The Delhi unit of Bharatiya Janata Party on Sunday said that the Arvind Kejriwal government is evading its responsibility on Metro fare hike and trying to mislead the people by playing dirty politics.
Delhi BJP chief Manoj Tiwari said that the Delhi government has a 50 per cent stake in Delhi Metro and no fare hike is possible without the consent of the Kejriwal government.
The Transport minister and even the Chief Minister knew very well about the current fare hike and allowed it, Tiwari claimed.
He added that Kejriwal's tweet demanding public audit of Delhi Metro is a big joke on people as the Delhi government already has access to Metro accounts, being a 50 per cent stakeholder.
Tiwari further claimed that earlier this year, with prior consent from the Chief Minister, the Delhi government's Chief Secretary, Finance Secretary and Transport Commissioner had joined DMRC's Fare Revision Committee meeting and approved a 50 per cent hike in fares to be implemented in 2 phases, i.e. in May and October.
Meanwhile, Leader of Opposition in Delhi Assembly Vijender Gupta said that the Delhi government has continuously played an irresponsible role in public transport matter, be it in releasing permissions and funds for Metro or for improving DTC services.
"No government leaves such decisions on bureaucracy and in this case too, the Kejriwal government gave consent to fare rise. But its bureaucrats ensured that implementation is postponed beyond the civic elections," added Gupta.
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