|image source: Live Mint|
The much awaited Mumbai Metro was finally flagged off today to the respite of humungous crowds that travel from east to west side of the city (few after an ordeal from far off places like Kalyan and Dombivali).. The endless queues on Bus No. 340. of which i was a part once, should hopefully now find a better and mass transit alternative.
The project has been obviously delayed leaps and bounds with one deadline pointing to another until the eventful today, when there is a war on what should be the ticket price. The joyous celebration has been maligned by leaders making unfound populistic drama, pretending to be crusaders of people’s cause by limiting ticket fares… And then there is this tribe of the new crusaders of ‘Truth” blaming the operating company Reliance and the newly formed Central govt. of crony capitalism.
As a rather fresh entrepreneur, specially the last part is a matter of concern where there is an orchestrated attempt to label successful entrepreneurs as “Chor” or hand in glove greasing the government for myopic sensationalism and political gains. This points to a typical crony-unionistic way of thinking, where an entrepreneur is denied the fruits of the risk he takes. People may argue that a large business house like Reliance may wield strong lobbying powers, unlike a smaller entrepreneur deserving mercy. I find no reasons why the opportunity of building such an empire isn’t open to any others who take armchair pride in pointing fingers at a large and successful entrepreneur (and his company).
Delay – The Culprit
Today, if MMOPL is demanding a rise in fare its because of the costs escalated by delays. If we refer to the specific reasons of delay it has been because of unmapped utilities, delay in land procurement and handover, and perhaps even delay in funding (knowing how the Maharashtra state government kept MMRDA high and dry, because it was the opponent party’s brainchild).
All the reasons for delay, if you may observe, are beyond the scope of the private party, and totally under the obligations of the State Government and the BMC. It would be funny to expect a private entity to bear the burden of these losses. Imagine if you were a share holder in that company, what would be your point of view?
Having said this, will future entrepreneurs have any reasons to get into an ambitious private public partnership with such orchestrated fabrications opposing their efforts?
Fares of the Metro – The debate
There is a big fight between the incumbent state government at the brink of elections, and the Reliance Metro company that runs Mumbai Metro on the issue of fares. While the government, wanting to be seen as people’s crusaders, are wanting the fares to remain at Rs. 9 – Rs. 13. (decided years ago).. Whereas Today the minimum Auto fare is Rs. 15, and the bus fare (non AC) for the same distance is about Rs. 20. MMOPL has demanded the fares to be in the range of Rs. 10 – Rs. 33 (few reports say Rs. 40)
With the overall inflation and escalation of costs, and considering the comparable costs of alternative transport, there is no reason or grounds to deem MMOPL’s demand as unreasonable. (try comparing the State owned AC bus rates with the metro).
Considering the issues above there is a strong case to hear out the woes of the private player rather than make them a scapegoat of electoral politics. Else we will have to imagine a scenario of 10 KM projects that take two generations of mobocracy to build.
Time for me to step out and take my first ride .. Those who disagree may perhaps make the most of the promotional ticket cost :)..