The Bharatiya Janata Party-Shiv Sena government in Maharashtra has sought the state’s Advocate General’s opinion on whether it should challenge the Bombay High Court’s January 8 order allowing a fare hike for the Mumbai Metro.
“The matter has been referred to the Advocate General seeking his opinion on the various legal aspects. So far Advocate General has not yet given his view and therefore the government and its undertaking the Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA) will take a decision in this regard in due course of time,” a senior minister in the Maharashtra government told Business Standard.
The Mumbai Metro One Private Limited (MMOPL), which is promoted by the Anil Dhirubhai Ambani Group (ADAG), operates the Versova-Ghatkopar metro corridor, had sought an increase in fares of up to Rs 40, and implemented the hike the day after the court order. MMOPL has also announced a ‘pass’ system in order to attract riders.
Following the court’s decision, Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis had said that the government would explore the option of approaching the Supreme Court to seek a stay on the fare hike until the Fare Fixation Committee (FFC) took a decision.
The FFC was set up two days after the high court order by the Central government. It is headed by Retired Justice E Padmanabhan and has former state chief secretary Jayant Kumar Banthia and former union law secretary T K Vishwanathan as members. The committee needs to decide on increase in fare within three months of the date of submission of tariff revision proposal.
The high court’s decision had evoked angry reactions from political parties, especially the opposition Congress and Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), both of whom blamed the BJP-Sena government for not being sympathetic towards metro commuters. They also alleged that the government was safeguarding ADAG’s business interests.
MMOPL had told the high court that despite the fare hike, it will continue to incur a daily loss of Rs 62 lakh. Currently, about 2,70,000 to 2,80,000 commuters use the Metro; that number is expected to cross 300,000 in the next 20 days.