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A day after the Centre set a condition to prevent the second proposed Metro fare hike from October 10, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal on Sunday wrote a letter to Union Housing and Urban Affairs Minister Hardeep Singh Puri offering to pay to the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) half of financial burden of Rs 3,000 crore annually.
The CM has said since the Delhi Government and the Centre are equal partners in the Delhi Metro, the Centre too should bear the burden of 50 per cent operational costs.
“The Delhi Government is willing to bear half the grant if only a matching grant is provided by the Central Government. As you know, the Central Government and the Delhi Government are 50:50 owners of the DMRC and its equity has been shared in this proportion all along.
“Since the Central Government bears 100 per cent of loss for Kolkata Metro, I see no difficulty if it bears 50 per cent in case of Delhi. Thereafter, a Fare Fixation Committee can be constituted. Discriminating so sharply between the people of Kolkata and Delhi does not appear to be reasonable by any standards and this fact cannot be completely overlooked,” wrote Kejriwal.
The Delhi CM said the Delhi Government is ready to take over the Delhi Metro to improve its efficiency. The second proposed Metro fare hike has become a bone of contention between the Delhi Government and the Central Government as Kejriwal has termed it “anti-people”.
In a related development, Delhi Metro chief Mangu Singh met Kejriwal at his residence on Sunday evening.
According to sources, Kejriwal told Mangu that the Metro fare hike will decrease the ridership of the Metro and private operators such as Ola or Uber will be benefitted. Kejriwal also said most of the commuter travel between 5 and 21 kilometres segment in the Metro and this is going to hurt the common people.
The Delhi Metro’s minimum fare was hiked from Rs 8 to Rs 10, and the maximum from Rs 30 to Rs 50 in May this year. If the fares are increased on October 10, those travelling more than two kilometres will need to pay Rs 5-10 more. The Delhi Metro is used by over 30 lakh people every day in the national Capital region that includes parts of Haryana and Uttar Pradesh.
On Friday, Union Minister Puri had made it clear to the Delhi CM that the Delhi Government will need to pay Rs 3,000 crore annually for five years if it wanted to stop the increase in Delhi Metro fares from October 10.
Puri further added that if the fares were not increased as per the recommendations of the Fare Fixation Committee, the total grants-in-aid that the DMRC would require in the next 5 years starting from 2017-18 till 2021-22 would be Rs 3,040 crore, Rs 3,616 crore, Rs 3,318 crore, Rs 3,150 crore and Rs 2,980 crore respectively. The DMRC needs this money to repay the Japanese International Cooperation Agency loans, depreciation for replacements etc.
“If the Central Government agrees, the Delhi Government would be willing to take over the DMRC. We are confident that we will be able to fund the DMRC by improving its efficiency rather than effecting steep fare hikes and provide an affordable means of transport to the people of Delhi. However, till that happens, let the spirit of partnership prevail and I do hope that you will and a mutually acceptable solution to the present impasse relating to the second fare hike which we clearly regard as anti-people,” the letter said.
“I can understand your reservation about issuing a direction under the said Section 86. The simpler course would be to advise the nominees of the Central Government and the Delhi Government on the board of the DMRC to postpone the hike for a few months (consistent with the recommendations of FFC to maintain a one-year gap) and in the meanwhile, we can make an in-depth review of the fare structure and the financial viability of the DMRC. On our part, we have already instructed our nominee Directors to call for an emergency meeting of the DMRC Board and seek postponement of the proposed hike. If only the representatives of the Central Government on the DMRC Board cooperate, the needful can be done,” the letter read.
On October 2, Kejriwal had called for an independent audit of the DMRC when he also asked for the fare revision to be put on hold till the exercise is completed. Kejriwal said private power distribution companies in the Capital had earlier shown fake losses to justify a tariff hike.
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