DMRC hikes fare, AAP to launch Satyagraha from today in protest

NEW DELHI
10 Oct 2017

The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) today said it will launch a 'Metro Fare Satyagraha' from Wednesday against the hike in Delhi metro fares and alleged that the decision to raise tariffs was taken by the Centre to "benefit" radio cab operators.

The fares were increased from today despite strong opposition from the AAP-led Delhi government which had locked horns with the Delhi Metro Rail Corp (DMRC) over the hike -- the second this year. Delhi AAP convenor Gopal Rai said the fare hike will benefit only the cab aggregators, like Ola and Uber, whose services will become cheaper than metro. AAP volunteers will launch the agitation at all city metro stations at 4 pm on Wednesday, Rai added. It will continue on Thursday and on Friday at 12 noon when the party workers will lay siege to Union urban development ministry housed in Nirman Bhavan here. AAP's Delhi unit convenor Gopal Rai also sought to debunk the claim that the fare hike was being done to cut down Metro losses, and said if the travel tariffs increase, this will have a direct impact on ridership.

"The increase in the fare is not to shore up the losses, but it appears that the main purpose is to benefit the Ola and Uber (radio cab operators). The fare hike will further congest Delhi and increase pollution," Rai added. He said the AAP will launch a "satygaraha" to demand a rollback and protest outside all Metro stations on Wednesday and will gherao Nirman Bhawan, the office of the Union urban development ministry, on Thursday. "The Modi government's decision to hike the fare is unfortunate and taken with animosity. They (the UD ministry) say that Metro is running into losses, but this is not true. How come the losses started mounting since last one year," Rai told newspersons. He said despite fervent efforts made by the Delhi government to stop the fare hike, including expressing its willingness to share the operational costs, the Centre has gone ahead with the proposed fare hike.

On Monday, deputy chief minister Manish Sisodia had also called the fare hike a "conspiracy" to benefit cab aggregators. AAP MLAs have been raising the issue in the Delhi Legislative Assembly and a resolution, to oppose the proposed hike, was passed by the House as well. The hike, which comes five months within the last one, will affect every commuter of the mass rapid transit who travels beyond 5 km, while journeys falling in the 2-5 km distance slab will cost Rs 5 more. Meanwhile, members of the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) staged a protest outside the Delhi Metro headquarters on Barakhamba Road demanding immediate withdrawal of the fare hike. The RSS-affiliated student outfit also demanded special concessionary passes for students of Delhi. Asked why the ABVP was protesting the move backed by the BJP, its Delhi state secretary Bharat Khatana said: "We feel the Centre did not assess the ground reality. It is pinching the pockets of the common man and students." The ABVP has, for the second time in a month, taken a stand against the Centre. It had on September 25 protested the attack on Banaras Hindu University students and urged the HRD Ministry to act against the BHU administration.

"The ABVP works for students, not for any political party and we are proud of it... We have enough guts to fight on genuine student issues," its media convener Saket Bahuguna had said. A group of NSUI workers had yesterday stopped a metro train protesting the fare hike. The revised fare structure will be: up to 2 km -- Rs 10, 2 to 5 km -- Rs 20, 5 to 12 km -- Rs 30, 12 to 21 km -- Rs 40, 21 to 32 km -- Rs 50 and for journeys beyond 32 km -- Rs 60.