At a time when inflation is burning holes in the pockets of the common man, members of the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) of the Navi Mumbai unit expressed their displeasure over surcharge commuters pay for using railway service to travel in and out of Navi Mumbai. The members claimed that there has been no accountability of the surcharge collected till date and the passengers continue to pay up to Rs 5 on local train tickets for travelling beyond the Vashi creek bridge.
To ensure that their voice was heard, the AAP members recently initiated a signature campaign at Vashi station and have decided to submit the signatures collected from commuters across Navi Mumbai to Union Railway Minister Pawan Kumar Bansal. AAP convener Ravi Srivastava had written to Bansal last week, asking him to abolish the surcharge at once.
Srivastava said, “The CIDCO-funded railway Vashi creek bridge was constructed in the early 90’s and in order to recover the cost of construction, a surcharge on railway tickets was proposed. It is unbelievable that in so many years, with lakhs of commuters travelling to and from Navi Mumbai, the amount is yet to be recovered. We want the surcharge to be abolished, as we believe it is unjust. We are hoping that the railway does it in this year’s budget. Hence we are trying our best to go to as many railway stations in Navi Mumbai to collect signatures and garner support.”
When we contacted, Central Railway Public Relations Officer A K Singh said the surcharge collected is given to CIDCO as they had funded a part of the bridge. CIDCO officials on the other hand claimed that they had contributed 67 per cent to the construction of the railway line and the bridge, and were therefore recovering Rs 777 cr they had invested in the project. They said the developmental body has recovered approximately Rs 352 cr till date.
When asked about the difference in the amount of surcharge commuters paid, CIDCO PRO Mohan Ninawe said, “The surcharge depends on the distance travelled by a commuter. A person travelling a longer distances will have to pay more in comparison to a commuter travelling shorter distances in Navi Mumbai.”