Centre to seek law ministry’s view on Mumbai Metro fare row

As the dispute between Maharashtra government and the Reliance-led Mumbai Metro One Private Ltd over the metro fare hike continues, minister of state for home Ranjit Patil today said the Centre had agreed to seek Union Law Ministry’s opinion on the demands of the state government.

Patil and MMRDA commissioner U P S Madan had met the Union Urban Development Minister Venkaiah Naidu and requested that the Mumbai Metro be taken out of the purview of amendments in the Metro Railway Act.

“The Centre’s amendment in the Metro Railway Act has a retrospective effect on Mumbai. We have urged the Centre to de-notify the Metro project from this Act as it does not allow the state to be the Metro Rail Administrator which has the power to fix fare,” Patil told PTI.

The current law allows either the government or the private player to be the sole-decision maker, depending on the share-holding.

Patil said with 26 per cent equity and investment of Rs 660 crore as Viability Gap Funding if the government still could not be the MRA and Reliance formed the fare fixation committee (FFC), then the company will take decisions in its own interest. “We cannot let this happen,” he said.

“The Centre has assured us it will take the law department’s opinion. We have also demanded a CAG audit on the cost escalation which the company is claiming. The Centre is positive on that as well.”

The Indian Tramway Act, which was in existence when the agreement between MMOPL and the government was signed, gave fare fixation powers to the state government.

Three-member FFC led by a retired SC judge has recommended increasing the fare of the Mumbai Metro along the Versova-Andheri-Ghatkopar route up to Rs 110. The maximum fare currently levied is Rs 40.