The formation of a Fare Fixation Committee (FFC) for the Mumbai Metro — seen as crucial after the fare war between the state government and the Reliance Infrastructure-led Metro operator — was delayed as the Centre was sitting on the file for nearly three months.
Under the Metro Act, the Metro Rail administrator has to fix the initial fare and the FFC has to look into any revision in tariff. The three-member committee is headed by a retired judge and comprises one nominee each from the state and the Centre.
According to the file noting, the Union Ministry of Urban Development (MoUD) had formed the FFC and sent the names to the Prime Minister-led Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT) for approval on September 18 last year. However, it was on December 10 that the ministry communicated to the Maharashtra government saying it should revise its nomination to the committee as per the DoPT’s observations.
The Maharashtra government had originally nominated retired bureaucrat Subodh Kumar to the FFC.
A state government official, who did not wish to be named, said, “The MoUD asked us to change the nomination as Subodh Kumar is now associated with the private sector. We promptly revised the nominated member to retired bureaucrat J K Banthia and conveyed it to the Centre.” The state government had sent its response on December 18, a week after receiving the urban development ministry’s letter.
The state had first nominated Subodh Kumar on June 12, when the deadline to form the FFC was September 30. However, on July 17, the MoUD had first asked the state to reconsider the nominated member.
“We vetted the name internally under the previous Congress-NCP government and decided to re-nominate the same person,” the state government official said. The same was communicated to the Centre on July 28. The urMoUD referred the names to the DoPT in September.
Shankar Aggarwal, MoUD secretary, said, “The formation of the committee is not held up from our side. There was an opinion that the state’s representative may not be the best fit. So, we wrote to the state asking them to suggest another name. We have got a reply only a few days ago.”