In one stroke, the Anil Ambani-led Reliance Infrastructure has arguably become the country’s most powerful private transport utility.
The state government in February recommended to the Union government to make Mumbai Metro One Private Limited (MMOPL) the metro railway administrator (MRA) for the soon-to-be inaugurated Versova-Andheri-Ghatkopar (VAG) line. Of the 11 directors on the board of MMOPL, eight belong to RInfra.
The state government’s move is in accordance with relevant sections of the Metro Railways (Operations and Maintenance) Act, 2002, and makes the VAG corridor a non-government metro, thereby giving MMOPL far-reaching powers over assets of the metro. According to section 6 of the Act, the MRA has the power to “acquire, hold and dispose of all kinds of properties owned by it, both movable and immovable”. Apart from this, it has the right to improve, develop or alter any property or asset held by it. Besides, the MRA could also develop any metro railway land for commercial use. Also, it can execute any lease or grant any licence in respect of the property held by it.
What’s more, the Act also grants wide powers to the MRA to erect hoardings as well as to use the metro property extensively for garnering advertising revenue. The power to fix the first set of fares without the interference of any outside body will be vested with the MRA as mandated under section 34 of the Act. The subsequent revision of fares, however, will be decided by a three-member Fare Fixation Committee headed by a retired or sitting high court judge. More info