As the increased Delhi metro fares came into effect on Tuesday, The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) on Wednesday protested outside nearly 60 stations of the Delhi Metro, raising slogans against the recent fare hike. Meanwhile, party chief Arvind Kejriwal asked Chief Secretary M M Kutty to direct the Dialogue and Development Commission (DDC) to examine issues related to the hike.
The party, which is in power in Delhi, sees a collision between the central government and the Delhi Metro for effecting the fare hike, so as to help app-based private cab companies make profits, it said.
It had announced the "Metro Kiraya Satyagrah" on Tuesday against the Delhi Metro for its decision to increase the fares which, it said, had disturbed the common man's monthly budget.
In a statement, AAP leader Gopal Rai said the hike was done at the behest of the Centre -- the Urban Development Ministry, which oversees the Delhi Metro.
"When the Centre justified the hike citing losses, the Delhi government even proposed contributing Rs 15,000 crore annually, but the Centre is not ready to pay its share. This has resulted in the fare hike," Rai, who led a protest at the Vishwavidyalya Metro Station, was quoted as saying in the statement.
'Hike could not have come at a worse time'
In his note to Kutty, Kejriwal wrote, "The steep hike in metro fares has caused considerable distress to the people of Delhi. The hike could not have come at a worse time."
"The economy is in recession, medium and small scale businesses are facing losses and unemployment is soaring high," the chief minister, who is also the chairman of the DDC, wrote.
Kejriwal also sought to know if the Delhi Metro was operating at its optimum capacity and whether the hike in fares is "justified".
He said since the Delhi government is an equal partner in the DMRC, it is "deeply concerned" about the impact of the hike on common people.
Kejriwal asked Kutty to direct the DDC to find out if the hike could "have been substantially offset by efficiency improvements as well as real estate exploitation" and "if the representations of GNCTD (Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi) were effectively present in its viewpoint in Committee/board."
While allowing the DDC to examine officers of both DMRC and Delhi government for the matter, the chief minister said, "DDC may, therefore be directed to examine these and all other related matters.
"For this purpose, it may call for relevant records and meet with the concerned officers of the DMRC and GNCTD. It may also engage such experts and consultants as may be necessary to undertake the task," he wrote in the note to Kutty.
The AAP government has been opposing the metro fare hike. The party has launched "Metro kiraya Satyagraha" at several stations to protest against the increase in fares.