Pune platform ticket cost hiked from Rs 3 to Rs 50, Railways cites COVID-19 as the reason after furore
Pune railway station has been handed over to a private company for ‘maintenance’ and ‘facility management’
After a furore on social media over the steep hike in the price of a platform ticket at Pune railway station, the Divisional Railway Manager (DRM) of Pune division came with a unique explanation. Initially decrying the information as “misleading”, the DRM, Renu Sharma clarified that the price of the platform ticket was increased to avoid crowding at the station in view of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The rationale behind steep hike in a platform ticket – which was sold for Rs 3 rupees when Pune station was not privatized and now costs Rs 50 after being handed over to a private company for ‘maintenance’ – is crowd management and efforts to control the spread the COVID-19 pandemic, insisted the Railways.
However, the DRM chose not to answer when we asked how and why she assumed that there would be a crowd at the station. She has not responded any further till the time of publishing this report. We will update the story as and when she replies.
While the DRM chose to give such an obscure reason, the Indian Railway Stations Development Corporation Limited (IRSDC) – a special purpose vehicle (SPV) of the government that has been designed to develop new stations and redevelop existing Indian railway stations – maintained a studied silence on the issue.
NH called Chetna Magu, Executive (PR), IRSDC on Monday and following her suggestions sent queries on WhatsApp, but she has also not responded yet.
Sukumar Damle, secretary, AITUC – a CPI linked workers union – expressed angst over the issue. “Though Modi government is hell bent on selling out public companies, due to the economic slowdown and pandemic, it is highly unlikely that their plan would get desired momentum,” he said.
After Habibganj in Bhopal, Pune became the second station that has been handed over to a private company for “maintenance and redevelopment”. The station was handed over to the Pune based BVG group which is considered a pioneer in field of facility management.
According to the agreement signed between IRSDC and BVG, the private company will act as a ‘facility manager’ for Pune station for a period of three years. The contract can be extended for three more years.
The agreement says BVG will not be responsible for sale of tickets in general; platform tickets may be an exception. At the time of signing the agreement, though BVG has said charges will remain the same, it has been increased manifolds within one year.
It is pertinent to note that that neither DRM, Pune nor the IRSDC uttered a single word about the BVG group despite being asked about the company.
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Published: 18 Aug 2020, 1:47 PM