New Delhi: Amid a face-off with the Centre over a proposed metro fare hike, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal has offered to take over the Delhi Metro claiming to make it more efficient and said the Aam Aadmi Party government was ready to provide half the funds needed to meet the gap in its finances for three months.
In a letter to Union Housing and Urban Affairs Minister Hardeep Singh Puri, Mr Kejriwal said the Centre bore the entire loss of Kolkata Metro and there should be no difficulty if it provided half the funds in the case of Delhi.
Mr Puri had on Friday told the Delhi government it would need to pay Rs. 3,000 crore annually for five years if it wanted to stop fare hikes on the Delhi Metro.
Arvind Kejriwal said Mr Puri's contention that the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation was bound to follow the Fare Fixation Committee's recommendations seemed "untenable".
Citing Section 86 of the DMRC Act, he said it was the Centre which had set up the fourth Fare Fixation Committee after a lapse of seven years. Therefore, the Union minister's contention that the central government was "powerless" in respect of fare fixation was "flawed".
The Fare Fixation Committee-recommended fare hike, a second in seven months, will come into effect on October 10.
Mr Kejriwal said the AAP government was confident it would be able to fund the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation by improving its efficiency rather than imposing fare hikes.
"As for your suggestion regarding a grant to the DMRC (Delhi Metro) for meeting the gap in their finances, my government is willing to bear half the grant if only a matching grant is provided by the central government."
"As you know, the central government and the Delhi government are 50-50 owners of the DMRC (Delhi Metro) and its equity etc. have been shared in this proportion all along," Mr Kejriwal said in his letter.
"Let an assessment be made of the financial gap likely to be created on account of the postponement of the second fare hike and we will be able to bear half of it," he said.
Sources in the Delhi government said that the chief minister offered to provide on a short-term basis, half the funds the DMRC (Delhi Metro) needed to meet the gap in its finances so that another Fare Fixation Committee could be set up to recommend fresh fares.
Besides cooperative federalism, the point remains that the Centre and Delhi government are equal partners in the DMRC, Mr Kejriwal said. "From the recent developments, it is becoming evident that the relationship is not one of equal partners since what the Delhi government proposes is often summarily disposed by the Cental government."
"If the Central government agrees, Delhi government would be willing to take over the DMRC (Delhi Metro)," he said.
Fares will go up by a maximum of Rs. 10 after the latest hike comes into effect.
The existing fare structure is: up to 2 kms -- Rs. 10, 2-5 kms -- Rs. 15, 5-12 kms -- Rs. 20, 12-21 kms -- Rs. 30, 21-32 kms -- Rs. 40 and for journeys beyond 32 kms -- Rs. 50.
From October 10, for a distance of up to two kilometres, the fare will remain Rs. 10, but for a distance between two and five kilometres, it will go up from Rs. 15 to Rs. 20. For the subsequent slabs, it will go up by Rs. 10 each, which means the maximum fare will be Rs. 60.
Delhi Metro managing director Mangu Singh also met the chief minister at his residence today. It was immediately not known as to what transpired at the meeting.