Mumbai

BEST passes budget for next year; BMC to discuss it now

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Estimates for 2020-21 show deficit of over ₹2,200 cr.

The Brihanmumbai Electric Supply and Transport (BEST) Undertaking Committee passed its budget for 2020-21 late on Friday.

BEST’s budget estimates for 2020-21 showed a deficit of ₹2,249.74 crore, with the transport division accounting for ₹2,349.74 crore in deficit, while the electricity supply division having a surplus of only ₹99.73 crore. The budget will now go to the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) for discussion.

Talks on for hours

The budget discussions went on till late on Friday, with committee members raising questions on the functioning of the undertaking and its future plans. Senior BEST committee member Sunil Ganacharya said the plans to ramp up its bus fleet through wet lease may end up proving fatal for the public bus service in future.

“The justification given while deciding to procure BEST buses on wet lease was the undertaking’s poor financial condition. However, under the rules of the Municipal Act, the BMC is duty-bound to provide a public bus service and to support it financially like other services,” Mr. Ganacharya said. He also said that the budgets of the BEST and the BMC should be merged.

Committee member Shrikant Kawthankar said the undertaking was not fully utilising its existing fleet as buses were starting late from depots and were being held back due to lack of conductors and drivers, which in turn led to losses of nearly 3,000 man-hours of operation every day. “We are just increasing buses, but where is the staff to drive and conductors to issue tickets?” he asked.

Staff crunch

Leader of the Shiv Sena-backed BEST Kamgaar Sena, Suhas Samant, said there had been no recruitment for the past three years and BEST had only 21,000 employees in the transport department to cater to nearly 30 lakh commuters.

The members demanded that the minimum fares of the AC buses should be increased to ₹10 from the existing ₹6 to curtail losses. They also said the fare revision had led to ₹8 crore piling up in coins. BEST gets ₹14 lakh in coins of various denominations each day.

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Printable version | Dec 16, 2019 1:03:19 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/mumbai/best-passes-budget-for-next-year-bmc-to-discuss-it-now/article30055761.ece

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