Mumbai, Jan 8: From Friday, Mumbai commuters using the city's metro will have to pay more. The Bombay High Court on Thursday gave a go-ahead to Reliance Infrastructure-led Mumbai Metro One Pvt Ltd (MMOPL) to charge fares in the range of Rs 10-40 for the Versova-Andheri-Ghatkopar line.
The division bench of Chief Justice Mohit Shah and Justice BP Colabawalla dismissed the government agency MMRDA's petition challenging a single-bench order of the court that denied the state government the right to decide the fares.
The High Court has also rejected MMRDA'S request that the promotional fare of Rs 10-20 be continued for another three weeks to allow it to challenge the decision in the Supreme Court.
A statement by RInfra and MMOPL (a joint venture between RInfra and MMRDA) on Wednesday said the promotional fares of Rs 10, Rs 15 and Rs 20 will continue till January 8. MMRDA's counsel, Aspi Chenoy, argued that they were bound by contractual obligation and could not charge more.
According to MMRDA, the consortium had agreed on a structure whereby the fares would be Rs 9 (up to 3 km), Rs 11 (from 3 to 8 km ) and Rs 13 (for more than 8 km). MMOPL, however, set the initial fares at Rs 10, Rs 20, Rs 30 and Rs 40.
Janak Dwarkadas, counsel for the RInfra, justified the fares saying that they have been incurring loss of Rs 85 lakh per day as only 2.65 lakh commuters are travelling by Metro as compared to estimated 4.1 lakh. Chenoy gave a comparative study of fares charged by Metro Rails at Delhi and Hyderabad. To this, Dwarkadas replied that the charges of electricity were much higher in Mumbai.
JJ Bhat, counsel for MMOPL, argued that it had asked the authorities in November 2013 to constitute a fare Fixation Committee (FFC). "Till the time the Metro Rail commenced in June 2014, several reminders were sent. However, no steps were taken in that regard," argued Bhat.
After the matter came to the HC in July last year, the Union Government was given time till November 30, 2014, to set up the FFC. It was then extended till December 31, 2014. However the Union Government again sought time till January 31, 2015, which was rejected by the HC on the last occasion.
Once it is set up, the FFC would get about three months to fix the fares. Justice RD Dhanuka had on June 24, 2014 dismissed MMRDA's petition, saying MMOPL had the right to decide the fares till the fare committee arrived at a decision.
(With agency inputs)