Kejriwal demands independent inquiry into metro fare hike

New Delhi: Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal on Thursday demanded that the Centre institute an independent inquiry into Delhi Metro’s decision to hike fares and raised questions about the latter’s accountability.

“The organisation, management, control and accountability of DMRC suffers from several serious flaws and the rationalisation and restructuring of DMRC seems an imminent necessity,” Kejriwal said in a letter to the Union Urban Development Minister Hardeep S. Puri.

He asked for the setting up of an “independent Expert Group” acceptable to both state and central government to look into several questions he has raised about the recent fare hike decision.

In the letter, Kejriwal said the latest hike was of over 100 per cent and that he had not seen such a steep hike in any public service, be it transport or electricity or water. He also surmised that the current hike exceeded the rate of inflation — one of the causes of increase in income and price of goods and services.

“One would have expected that on account of rapidly rising ridership, efficiency improvements and real estate exploitation, metro fares in real terms should have remained constant, if not reduced,” he wrote.

The fare hike “demonstrates a complete lack of compassion for the common man”, he added.

The decision of hike in metro fare was taken by the three-member Fare Fixation Committee (FFC) which was formed last year with one representative from the Centre and the Delhi government each and the third, a retired high court judge.

Kejriwal claimed that in implementing the second hike within six months of each other, the FFC’s recommendation of a gap of one year between the two hikes was also ignored.

The first hike was implemented in May this year, while the second one was pressed in on Tuesday this week.

He also said that the three-way partnership between Centre, Delhi government and the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) was a “facade” which is being used by the corporation for scoring large funding from the Delhi government.

“… DMRC is in no way accountable to the Delhi government, nor does it pay any heed to our directions,” Kejriwal said.

He also remarked on the Centre’s rejection of his government’s offer to pay half the expenses of the Delhi Metro as absurd, for the arrangement, as he claimed, was like “where all losses are required to be borne by the Delhi government even though it has no say whatsoever in the management of DMRC”.

The manner in which the second hike was brought despite ples of postponement by the Delhi government was “high handed, to say the least”, Kejriwal said.