Commuters, students, women hit the streets in Delhi to protest metro fare hike
The Delhi Metro Commuters' Association (DMCA), on October 11 along with students from different universities took to the streets to protest the fare hike in the metro for the second time in the year at the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs, and demanded immediate roll back of the fare hike.
The protest was also supported by activists from Krantikari Yuva Sangathan (KYS). DMCA also submitted a memorandum to the Union Minister, Shri Hardeep Singh Puri through his Personal Secretary, Baldeo Purushartha to demand an immediate revocation of fare increase made this year.
The demands made in the memorandum submitted to the Union Ministry are:
- A Review Committee involving all stakeholders including commuters' representatives should be formed to look into prospects of running metro with special concern towards affordability of metro ride.
- The increased fares of the metro-ride including the increase made in May 2017 should be immediately rolled back till the Review Committee decides on the issue.
- Special concessional ride-passes should be introduced for students and people from economically weaker and laboring sections.
The DMCA also pointed out that the increase in the fare will cost a loss of ridership as many would not be able to afford the increased fare rates. DMCA had in May protested against the Urban Development Ministry and DMRC for bringing in anti-people step to benefit the Japanese Bank.
The DMCA said, "One of the reasons given for the increase is the urgency of loan repayment to the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), which had financed the construction of Delhi Metro. Of the amount i.e. Rs 3,770.79 crore paid to the agency till now, interest paid was Rs 2,263.67 crore and principal paid was Rs 1,507.12 crore. A further 26,760.28 crore needs to be paid to JICA in order to clear off the loan. Clearly, such a loan repayment structure seems to benefit the lending agency more, since the interest is more than the original amount loaned. Also, such loans have are highly profitable for the lender as they come with certain provisions such as technology transfer which are made mandatory along with such loans. Moreover, if the loan repayment amount is affixed to the metro fares so as to levy the cost of construction and expansion of metro infrastructure from the commuters themselves, the costs would become prohibitively high for them to use the metro."
Women who took part in the protest also spoke about the problems they are facing due to the increased fare, which forced them to take to buses. They also shared how it has affected their safety and security, as harassment is common in crowded buses during peak hours.
DMCA has resolved to take its campaign further if its demands are not met immediately. It has also decided to intensify its struggle by gheraoing ruling BJP's MPs and MLAs in the coming days.
Not only the DMCA but the Delhi Pradesh Congress Committee also launched a week-long campaign against the fare hike against BJP and AAP.