Amid a stiff opposition from the Delhi government over the proposed fare increase, the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) today said the "hike is necessary" to meet input costs and to keep providing a world-class service. Delhi Metro, which has been operational in the capital since 2002, is at present carrying around 27 lakh passengers everyday, and has become the lifeline of the city with a punctuality of over 99.7 per cent.
"To continue to provide a world-class service, it is essential to operate as a healthy organisation. Keeping this in view, the provision has been made for the periodic revision of fares through a Fare Fixation Committee (FFC) in the Delhi Metro Operations & Maintenance Act, 2002," it said.
However, since 2009, there has been no increase in fare, whereas the input cost for the DMRC has increased by "over 105 per cent in energy, 139 per cent in staff cost and by 213 per cent for repair and maintenance", the DMRC said in a statement. The proposal has been described as "unacceptable" by Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, who has written to the Centre, demanding that the decision be withheld and reviewed.
In a letter to Union Minister for Housing and Urban Affairs Hardeep Singh Puri, Kejriwal today said the proposed hike, to be effected from October 10, would be in "violation of the recommendations of the fare fixation panel".
DMRC, justifying the proposed move, said, "As the metro system is getting older, more maintenance procedures, preventive and corrective checks, safety and reliability checks, replacement of electrical fittings are required which is essential for providing a world class service, and which also leads to increased cost in overall operations and maintenance."
In addition, it said, the DMRC has taken a "huge loan" from the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) and a "payment of Rs 26,760 crore is still outstanding".
Moreover, DMRC says it has to provide for depreciation and replacement of various assets such as the trains (rolling stock) which have a life span of 30 years, and will have to be replaced subsequently, and for this provision has to be kept.
"In spite of operating efficiently, DMRC is making a net loss of Rs 378 crore in view of the above factors. The long gap of over eight years in the formation of the FFC has resulted in the fare hike in percentages, which if seen on yearly basis, is in the reasonable range of 7-8 per cent per annum, taking into account the two phase of the fare Hike (Phase-I: May 2017, Phase-II; October 2017)," it added.
Delhi Metro is making efforts to reduce its operating cost by going for solar power projects and increasing the energy efficiency at its stations besides introducing new initiatives on Property Development and Property Business front.
The metro corporation is consistently increasing number of trains, AFC gates, lifts, escalators and other passenger services which also result in the increase of input cost but are essential for providing a world class service, it said.
Once Phase-III of the Delhi Metro is fully operational, commuters on many routes will have to travel shorter distances and they will be paying lesser fares. The DMRC's maximum fare level is either less or comparable with corresponding figure of other metros, which are operating in India, the statement said.