Thursday, January 8, 2015

Bombay HC rules in favour of RInfra, Metro rides set to get more expensive

The Bombay High Court on Thursday dismissed an appeal filed by the government and ruled in favour of Reliance Infrastructure (RInfra) led Mumbai Metro One Pvt Ltd (MMOPL) in the Mumbai metro fare hike case.
This now allows the operator of the single Mumbai Metro line a higher fare of Rs 10, Rs 20, Rs 30 and Rs 40 for tickets on the the Ghatkopar-Versova line, The Economic Times reported.
Reliance Infra will decide on increasing fares with effect from 10 January, according to reports.
The division bench of Chief Justice Mohit Shah and Justice B P Colabawalla was hearing an appeal filed by the government agency MMRDA challenging a single-bench order of the court that denied the state government the right to decide the fares.
MMRDA had also challenged the new fares declared by Reliance Infra.
The lawyer representing MMOPL (a joint venture between RInfra and MMRDA), JJ Bhat, told the court that the promotional fares of Rs 10, Rs 15 and Rs 20 will continue till Thursday.
MMRDA's counsel, Aspi Chenoy, argued that they were bound by contractual obligation and could not charge more. According to MMRDA, the consortium had agreed on a structure whereby the fares would be Rs 9 (up to 3 km), Rs 11 (from 3 to 8 km ) and Rs 13 (for more than 8 km). MMOPL, however, set the initial fares at Rs 10, Rs 20, Rs 30 and Rs 40.
Janak Dwarkadas, counsel for the RInfra, justified the fares saying that they have been incurring loss of Rs 85 lakh per day as only 2.65 lakh commuters are travelling by Metro as compared to estimated 4.1 lakh.
Chenoy gave a comparative study of fares charged by Metro Rails in Delhi and Hyderabad. To this, Dwarkadas countered that the charges of electricity were much higher in Mumbai.
JJ Bhat, counsel for MMOPL, argued that it had asked the authorities in November 2013 to constitute a fare Fixation Committee (FFC).
"Till the time the Metro Rail commenced in June 2014, several reminders were sent. However, no steps were taken in that regard," argued Bhat.
After the matter came to the HC in July last year, the Union Government was given time till 30 November 2014, to set up the FFC. It was then extended till 31 December, 2014. However the Union Government again sought time till 31 January 2015, which was rejected by the HC on the last occasion.
Justice RD Dhanuka had on 24 June, 2014 dismissed MMRDA's petition, saying MMOPL had the right to decide the fares till the fare committee arrived at a decision.

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