‘Scrap minimum balance rule’: Bengaluru activists protest Metro smart card hike

On Wednesday, Metro officials raised the minimum balance for smart cards from Rs 8.50 to Rs 50.
‘Scrap minimum balance rule’: Bengaluru activists protest Metro smart card hike
‘Scrap minimum balance rule’: Bengaluru activists protest Metro smart card hike
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A day after the Bangalore Metro Rail Corporation Limited (BMRCL) hiked the minimum balance for smart card to Rs 50, a group of activists under the banner of ‘Bengaluru Metro Users Forum’ held a protest in the city’s Town Hall opposing the move.

They called for withdrawal of the new rule stating that this would be of great inconvenience to commuters. They also demanded that before taking such steps, the BMRCL should hold consultations with the public before taking any decisions which will directly affect commuters. 

They also protested against the order being issued only in the English language and demanded that all orders be made available in Kannada as well.

“They (BMRCL) should scrap this rule of minimum balance. They will earn lakhs of rupees in interest through this. This is an indirect way of earning profits from public money. This is a fraud. In bank at least you get interest, will they give interest?” Arun Prasad, one of the protesters asked. 

Prasad is also a candidate for Bengaluru Central seat in the upcoming Lok Sabha polls from Viduthalai Chiruthaigal Katchi (VCK) party, which has its roots in neighbouring Tamil Nadu.

When pointed out that the BMRCL’s decision was based on some passengers misusing the previous minimum balance which existed, Prasad said, “What integrity are the metro officials showing themselves? They have cut 257 trees on Bannerghatta Road alone without following required permissions. There needs to be a public consultation to cut more than 50 trees, but they will call tenders in parts showing less than 50 trees are cut and bypass the public consultation process.”

It was reported how some commuters were not aware of the change in minimum balance on Wednesday when the BMRCL implemented the sudden rule change.

Speaking to TNM on Thursday, Yashwant Chavan, BMRCL’s chief spokesperson said the rule change was necessary as some commuters would claim that they had no money after completing their journey.

“People were misusing the minimum balance. There was a recurring problem as some people always used to travel with low balance and claim, ‘I don’t have money or ‘I don’t have cash or card’ at the destination station. Often, there would be altercations between the metro staff and commuters. This would also cause inconvenience to other metro users,” he said.

Kumar Jahgirdar, a social activist said, "We will gherao metro stations in the coming days if they do not go back on their decision. Most people who travel in the metro are from the lower middle class.”

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