Mumbai: Suburban train fares and the monthly budgets of Mumbaikars went for a toss Saturday with the 14.2 percent hike that led to a steep rise in the prices of daily tickets as well as monthly season tickets.
The hike was condemned by various political parties and organisations dependent on the city`s lifeline, the suburban railways, like the eight million local commuters and of course, the famous dabbawalas.
Mumbai Congress president J Chandurkar flayed the "arbitrary hike" in the suburban train fares and said it would severely impact the lives of the common Mumbaikars.
"Despite having a majority, the manner in which the arbitrary hike has been imposed spells concerns for democracy. The hike must be withdrawn or we shall be forced to agitate," he said.
Mumbai Pradesh Youth Congress president Ganesh Kumar Yadav termed the hike as "a betrayal" of the people by the government.
"The (Narendra) Modi government has stabbed in the back each of the 75 lakh commuters who use the suburban trains daily. Is this the `achhe din` (good days) they had promised?" Yadav asked, demanding a rollback in the fares.
Calling the act "treachery", Maharashtra Pradesh Congress Committee state spokesperson Sachin Sawant said the BJP regime has failed on all fronts, be it inflation, petrol prices, dollar rates and now the rail fare and freight hikes.
"In fact, they have failed to even control the prices of onions. Although they had made tall promises of bringing back wealth stashed away in foreign banks, now they are not even taking the names of the people whose money is kept there," Sawant said.
The Nutan Mumbai Tiff Box Suppliers Trust (NMTBST) - comprising over 200,000 dabbawalas of Mumbai - said it was "stunned" by the sudden fare hike and staged protests in the city Saturday.
"This steep hike has come at a time when all families are having additional expenses with school and college fees, books, uniforms, and other expenses. The NMTBST will discuss the implications and then announce a hike in the tiffin box delivery rates," NMTBST spokesperson S Talekar told IANS.
Meanwhile, Information and Broadcasting Minister Prakash Javadekar sought to justify the fare and freight hikes by terming it as "a move to provide people a better rail infrastructure".
He said the rail fare hike decision was taken by the previous Congress-led government.
"The railway infrastructure is in a shambles. People`s demands are better facility and security in the railways. Our decision is only a step in that direction to provide people security and better facilities. If the railways is not safe, transport would be hampered," Javadekar said Saturday on the sidelines of a programme in Mumbai.