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Arvind Kejriwal Government 'Orders' Delhi Metro To Suspend Fare Hike

NEW DELHI:  Aam Aadmi Party’s Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal launched a campaign against the hike of metro fare in Delhi, timing his opposition to just a few days before commuters have to pay more for rides on the Delhi Metro. Mr Kejriwal had Transport Minister Kailash Gahlot summon the metro chief Mangu Singh to his office to tell him to hold back the hike that AAP has called an “anti-people move”.

By evening, the city’s transport minister also declared that the metro had been ‘ordered’ to put the hike on hold.

“It is not clear as to whether the stand of the Delhi government was considered by the Fare Fixation Committee. The government is in the process of examining the entire matter,” Mr Gahlot’s ‘order’ said.

It is not clear if Delhi Metro will listen to the AAP government.

The metro – that carries about 2.8 million passengers daily through a 218 km long network of underground and overground tracks – is co-owned by the central and state government.

But the rules do not give the government the power to veto a fare hike once it has been cleared by the metro’s board. This body is headed by the Union Urban Affairs Secretary but has top Delhi government officials as well.

After Transport Minister Kailash Gahlot’s much-publicised meeting with Delhi Metro’s Mangu Singh, the metro chairman told reporters that the decision to hike the fare remain unchanged.

“Yes, we spoke about the fare hike… I explained to him how the fare had gone up,” Mr Singh said. The official explained to the minister that the  adding that the recommendation of the Delhi Metro’s Fare Fixation Committee’s had come last year. The city government’s top bureaucrat, Chief Secretary, was a member of this committee as well.

For the Aam Aadmi Party that has gone on an overdrive to reach out to the people with its achievements, Thursday’s aggressive campaign is an attempt to distance itself from the fare hike.

The fare hike had been cleared by the Delhi Metro’s board in May this year. But the board had decided to raise the fare in two installments because one may have been just too much of a shocker for people.

The Rs 10 hike that will raise the fare in the highest slab from Rs 50 to 60 from next week is the second installment, the first one was much more steeper and raised the maximum fare from Rs 30 to Rs 50.

The last fare revision took place in 2009.