The Bombay High Court today asked the Central Government to ensure that a fare fixation committee (FFC) was appointed quickly so that ticket rates for Mumbai Metro were decided latest by September 30. A Bench of Chief Justice Mohit Shah and Justice M S Sonak also asked the Centre to file an affidavit by September 1, informing whether such a committee had been formed and how it proposed to decide the fares.
Under the Central Metro Act, the Union Government is mandated to form such a body to decide the fares of Metro railway. On last occasion, the High Court had accepted the proposal of Reliance Infrastructure (RInfra) and Mumbai Metro One Pvt Ltd (MMOPL) to slash the fares of Mumbai Metro from Rs 10-40 bracket to Rs 10-Rs 20 till the month-end. Reliance is the major partner of the consortium which floated MMOPL to operate the Metro.
Maharashtra Government's premier infrastructure planning agency MMRDA, another partner of consortium, has disputed the fares. RInfra and MMOPL had told the court earlier that until the FFC decided the fares, they would keep the rates at Rs 10 for a distance up to 3 kms, Rs 15 up to 8 kms and Rs 20 for longer journey (up to 20 kms) till July 31.
The Court is hearing an appeal of Mumbai Metropolitan Regional Development Authority (MMRDA) against a single Bench order of the High Court denying it the right to decide fares. The Ghatkopar-Versova Metro route was opened for traffic last month. MMRDA had challenged the fare hike by RInfra, a private company. Justice R D Dhanuka last month dismissed MMRDA's plea saying as per the agreement between the parties, MMOPL had the right to fix the initial fares till FFC decided them.
RInfra and MMOPL said despite their communication to the authorities in November 2013, FFC has not been set up as the Government has not yet nominated its member on the body. MMRDA said the consortium had agreed on a structure under which fares were to be Rs 9 (up to 3 kms), Rs 11 (from 3 to 8 kms) and Rs 13 (for more than 8 kms). MMOPL had fixed the initial fares at Rs 10, Rs 20, Rs 30 and Rs 40. The single Judge, while refusing to stay the fares hike, had observed that agreement indicated that MMOPL is empowered to fix the fares till FFC is formed.
Meanwhile, MMOPL, in a release, said it would continue to offer discount on initial fares till September 30. MMOPL had announced discount on initial fares to the commuters from July 8, when the Metro observed its successful completion of one month of commercial service. The current discount from minimum Rs 10 to maximum Rs 20.
"We are happy to continue to offer discount on initial fares to our valued commuters till September 30 as per our actual plan. We wanted to continue with the discount at least for three months starting July 8, so that this duration can be utilised to educate the commuters and strengthen the transport system," a MMOPL spokesperson said.