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Mumbai: As the first phase of the Mumbai Metro is all set for its opening, severe differences have cropped up between the state government and the Reliance Infrastructure over the fares.
In September 2013, the government had increased the ticket rates to Rs 9 (up to 3 km), Rs 11 (3-8 km) and Rs 13 (over 8 km), as against Reliance Infrastructure's demand of Rs 22, Rs 28 and Rs 33. But now Reliance Infrastructure wants the fares to be between Rs 10-40.
The government however has refused to agree to the demand. Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan told reporters, "I have agreed to inaugurate the Metro on one condition that the fare must be as specified in the agreement. If fares have to be increased there is a process and it cannot be done arbitrarily like this."
For now commuters will pay the inaugural fare of Rs 10 for one month.
Mr Chavan also accused the Opposition of supporting the demand for increase in fares. However Vinod Tawde, leader of Opposition in the Legislative Council said, "The fare that has been finalized according to the agreement must be implemented."
Mumbai Metro, the maximum city's latest showpiece opens to the public today. After a delay of three years and nearly double the original cost, the first of the three phases will finally cut the travel time from Ghatkopar to Versova to 20 minutes.
The sleek AC coaches will provide crucial east-west connectivity in a linear and congested city gasping for space. It will also connect the eastern and western suburban local train services which run from south Mumbai to the northern suburbs.
The government had thrown open the Monorail, the Eastern Freeway, the Sahar Elevated road, a swanky new airport terminal and the Santa-Cruz Chembur Link Road just before the general elections. Yet the Congress-NCP failed to win a single seat in Mumbai. But this time around with the assembly elections likely to be fought on regional and local issues, the government expects political returns from these projects.