A day after the city’s first Metro corridor got the final safety clearance from the Railway Board, the state government is still undecided on an inauguration date for the project and is under pressure for the same.
Officials in charge of the project had discussions running till late on Friday evening about the opening of the 11.4-km Versova-Andheri-Ghatkopar Metro. Dilip Kawathkar, spokesperson at the Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA) said, “There has been no decision yet on when the Metro is to be inaugurated or opened for commercial operations.”
Newly-elected MPs from the BJP Kirit Somaiya from Mumbai North East and Gopal Shetty from Mumbai North have declared that they will go to the Ghatkopar Metro station on Saturday afternoon at 3 pm and open the corridor themselves.
“As the Congress government is delaying the launch of Mumbai Metro, we will start the Metro from Ghatkopar tomorrow at 3 pm as the first passengers,” Somaiya claimed. Manikrao Thakre, state Congress chief, said the party is keen to open the Metro line for operations at the earliest. “However, it should be done in a reasonable manner,” Thakre said.
Now that all clearances are in, the only sticky issue that has to be ironed out before the city’s first Metro is opened for commercial operations is the initial fare structure.
The fare structure has been a bone of contention between the state government and the Reliance Infrastructure-led Mumbai Metro One Pvt Ltd (MMOPL), which is in charge of the Metro on a public private partnership model, since the past two years. The latter has been demanding a revision in the fare structure claiming a cost escalation of Rs 1,935 crore over and above the original cost of Rs 2,356 crore. The state government has as per the concession agreement notified the initial fare in the bracket of Rs 9-13, while the MMOPL has been asking for it to be raised saying it is the Metro Rail Administrator for the project and as per the Metro Act gets the flexibility of deciding the initial fare.