Maharashtra: Maharashtra`s first Metro Rail, scheduled to be inaugurated here Sunday, has become embroiled in a controversy over a proposed hike in passenger fares.
A visibly upset Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan Saturday expressed his strong reservation to the proposed hike in fares reportedly contemplated by RInfra, which has built the 11.40 km Metro Rail running east-west between Versova-Andheri-Ghatkopar, at a cost of Rs.4,300 crore.
"As per the tender, RInfra has agreed to charge fares of Rs.9, Rs.11 and Rs.13 for the journey (depending on km). Now, they are planning to charge between Rs.10-Rs.40. This is totally unacceptable to us," Chavan told reporters here.
Chavan further hinted that in case RInfra went ahead with the "arbitrary fare hike", he would not attend the inauguration function Sunday.
In fact, he said the inauguration`s go-ahead was given subject to not hiking the fares and it must stick to the agreement.
Referring to the efforts by some Bharatiya Janata Party MPs of Mumbai like Kirit Somaiya and Gopal Shetty, Chavan alleged that "the BJP is helping RInfra in the fare hike".
"The BJP must make its stand clear on the issue of fares and take responsibility for any hike in the ticket rates," Chavan said.
He made it clear that any fare hike would only be after the opinion of the expert committee on fares and the state government was opposed to any arbitrary increase in the passenger ticket rates.
Earlier Saturday, Mumbai Metro One Private Limited (MMOPL) - the Metro Railways Administration (MRA) for the Mumbai Metro Line?1 project - said in a statement that "the commercial operation of the metro service will start on June 8 at 12 noon. The company has now received all requisite government approvals for commercial operations".
"To provide the benefits of a new and world class experience to lakhs of valued citizens of Mumbai, a concessional and promotional fare of Rs. 10 only will be charged for the first 30 days, irrespective of the distance travelled on the Versova-Andheri-Ghatkopar (VAG) corridor for a single one way trip between any stations. This promotional fare is notwithstanding the initial fare fixed and notified separately on initial opening of the metro railway under Central Metro Act," the statement said.
MMOPL CEO Abhay Mishra said: "The beginning of commercial operation of Mumbai Metro is a historical moment for the city of Mumbai. With this first rail connectivity between east and west, Mumbaikars can avoid as many as 45 traffic signals and reduce travelling time from 90-120 minutes. These air conditioned services are safe, convenient and cost effecctive. This service will change the life of Mumbaikasrs and the way they commute every day."
The services will start 5.30 am and continue till midnight with a total of 16 rakes deployed on the sector, serving the glamour and IT centres of Versova and the business and manufacturing areas of Ghatkopar at an 80 kmph speed.
Each of the colourful rakes with four coaches will have a capacity of around 375 commuters or around 1,500 commuters per service, zooming above the city between the two points - Versova-Ghatkopar - with a total of 12 elevated stations en route.
Meanwhile, intense competition started among activists of the Nationalist Congress Party and Bharatiya Janata Party over claiming credits for the Mumai Metro.
NCP activists carried out a symbolic inauguration with a small pooja near Ghatkopar marking the start of Mumbai Metro while Somaiya and Shetty staged a road block agitation near Ghatkopar protesting the delays in starting the Metro Rail services.