You can finally board the Metro today. However, the Metro, which had had its fair share of controversies and troubles, will not be without another one when it becomes operational. The latest is the refusal by chief minister Prithviraj Chavan to inaugurate the service. This comes after Reliance Infrastructure (RInfra) on Saturday revised the fares for the Versova-Ghatkopar line a second time. The state government wants RInfra to stick to the September 2013 fare. Chavan said RInfra went ahead with the revision without the approval of the fare fixation panel.
RInfra's counter is that as per rules whenever a conflict arises between the Metro Railway Act, 2002, and the concession agreement, the former will prevail.
What's more, the company even said it will go ahead with the inaugural service, Chavan or no Chavan.
dna has already reported on Saturday about RInfra hiking fares at their whims.
In September 2013, Chavan had agreed to a fare revision under the concession agreement between RInfra and the state. The initial fares were Rs 6 (up to 3km), Rs 8 (3-8 km) and Rs 10 (over 10 km). That was revised to Rs 9 (up to 3 km), Rs 11 (3-8 km) and Rs 13 (over 8 km), against RInfra's demand of Rs 22 (up to 3 km), Rs 28 (3-8 km) and Rs 33 (over 8 km). "We, Mumbai Metro One Pvt Ltd, being the Metro Rail Administrator (as per the Metro Railway Act, 2002) have notified the fares of Rs 10, Rs 20, Rs 30 and 40 for 0-3, 3-6, 6-9 and over 9 km, respectively," said Abhay Mishra, chief executive officer of MMOPL.
On the other side, this was what Chavan said: "I will inaugurate the Metro only on one condition -- the earlier, cheaper fares are charged. They have not taken approval from the fare fixation committee." On Friday, a petition was filed in the high court over the fare dispute.
Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority staff, too, remained out of bounds on Saturday symbolising their protest to boycott Sunday's event. "Everyone's invited for the inauguration ceremony on Sunday at 9.45 am at Versova Metro Station," said Debashish Mohanty of RInfra. When asked if the project will be commissioned irrespective of whether the CM is present or not, the reply was affirmative.
Meanwhile, as a stop-gap measure, the RInfra-led MMOPL has announced a 30-day flat, one-way promotional tariff of Rs 10, irrespective of the travel distance.
RInfra officials have left a grey area over what the fares will be after 30 days, by stating that there are various combinations available with them. RInfra attributed the fare hike to rise in project cost from Rs 2,356 crore to Rs 4,321 crore. Operation and maintenance costs too have shot up from the projected Rs 100 crore to Rs 240 crore, it justified.