Delhi bus fare hike: Residents’ associations up in arms

October 27th, 2009 - 9:03 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Oct 27 (IANS) Residents’ welfare associations (RWAs) took up the cause of commuters Tuesday, demanding an immediate rollback of increased fares for Delhi Transport Corporation (DTC) buses, and pointed out that household budgets were already stretched.
“We have already been hit hard by inflated power bills, increasing school fees, inflation, increasing vegetables prices and now this increase in bus fares. We want an immediate rollback of the decision,” V.K. Arora, the convener of URJA Bharat, told IANS.

URJA Bharat is an association of various RWAs and has nearly 100 such associations as its members.

“The government is also considering a hike in Delhi Metro fares. Where will the public go? We have also sent a memorandum to the Delhi government and Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit in this regard,” Arora told IANS.

The Delhi government Monday cleared a proposal to hike DTC bus fares. The minimum Rs.3 ticket will now cost Rs.5, the Rs.7 ticket has been upped to Rs.10, and the Rs.10 fare to Rs.15. On the DTC’s air-conditioned buses, commuters will have to pay Rs.10 for a ride up to three kilometres, Rs.15 for a journey between three and 10 km, and Rs.25 for beyond 10 km.

“The government is robbing people in the name of a comfortable journey,” said Ashok Gupta, a resident of east Delhi.

Rajender Ramphall of the Inderpuri RWA said: “We are already suffering under high power bills, school fee hike, inflation, milk prices, faulty hiked power bills and now bus fare. It should be immediately rolled back. We strongly oppose any such move by Delhi government and DMRC. This move is mainly to benefit private bus owners and transporters in the city.”

V.N. Bali of Ram Vihar’s RWA said: “Rollback is the only solution for the Delhi government or people will be forced to come on to the streets.”

Ritu Bhatia of Mahila Pragatisheel Association said: “Women and college-going girls will be the worst affected as they do not have much choice other than travelling on the Metro or DTC buses. Many of them do not drive or commute like men.

“With a hike in bus and Metro fares, the entire household will be affected and the home budget has already been dented by inflated power bills, a forced school fee hike and the price rise of essential goods.”

Atul Goyal, the convenrr of URJA Delhi, which has over 850 RWAs as its members, said: “It is totally an unwarranted hike. The government thinks it can do anything after its victory. People are being made to bear the DTC’s organisational losses.”

“We are organising a meeting in this regard and will soon take a decision about our next step,” Goyal added.

“At present, I spend about Rs.40 for commuting to my office in Okhla from my residence in Shalimar Bagh. Now I will have to shell out out Rs.20 more,” said daily commuter Ritesh Dewan.

Rajesh Singh, who travels between Delhi and Noida daily, said: “I have to go to Noida daily from Shahdara in a bus packed like sardines paying Rs.25 for one side. I will have to shell out about 20 percent of my salary on commuting. Moreover, even after paying up, I will have to suffer the poor condition of the buses.”

Chief Minister Dikshit has justified the hike.

“DTC has been striving hard to augment its city transport fleet, for which huge capital investment is required. Further, the DTC has implemented the recommendations of the Sixth Pay Commission, resulting in a substantial burden on its finances.”

“Apart from this, the operational cost is also increasing day-by-day. Keeping all this in view, it became necessary to effect a justified hike in fare structure so that at least a portion of deficit and losses could be taken care of,” she said.

-Indo-Asian News Service

ma/pg/vt

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