CAG to audit Metro books over claims of fare hike

Mumbai: In a setback to the Reliance Infrastructure-led Mumbai Metro One Private Limited (MMOPL), the state government has decided to conduct special audit of the books of Mumbai Metro by the Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG) to ascertain the claims made by the company for fare hike. The announcement was made by chief minister Devendra Fadnavis in the Legislative Assembly on Monday. The chief minister also announced that all the upcoming Metro projects in the city would be underground henceforth.

The cost of the 11.4-km project, which runs from Versova to Andheri and Ghatkopar, was originally pegged at Rs 2,356 crore but shot up to Rs 4,321 crore. The project is being executed by the MMOPL, a special purpose vehicle set up by the Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA), Reliance Infrastructure and Veolia Transport of France.

Based on this, Reliance Infrastructure (RInfra) had increased fares of Metro rail multiple times, leading to a dispute between MMRDA and the company.

The chief minister, while replying to a special debate on the issues of Mumbai, said that the fare fixation committee had been formed and application for fares would be made by MMRDA, but before that the state government had decided to conduct a special audit of Mumbai Metro.

“We will conduct special audit of the books of Mumbai Metro by CAG before going to the fare fixation committee to finalise fares. The objective is to find out the reasons for the losses of Mumbai Metro which has been made the base for the fare hike,” Mr Fadnavis said.

The dispute over fare hike turned into a legal battle when MMRDA challenged the fare hike in the Bombay high court. However, the court had allowed RInfra to fix the initial fares at Rs 10, Rs 20, Rs 30 and Rs 40.

The MMOPL has claimed that it was suffering losses of over Rs 80 lakh on a daily basis and the average daily passenger traffic too was low by over 30 per cent than the estimates.