Fresh from a ‘study tour’ of Istanbul, Turkey which they were roundly criticised for corporators from the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation have decided to float a proposal to make the civic body turn restaurateur. So, if all goes to plan, you could be heading to your nearest BEST bus depot to eat ‘reasonably-priced’ food at a BMC-owned restaurant.
Corporators Sandeep Deshpande (second from left), Rais Shaikh (in blue shirt) and others with their counterparts from Istanbul at a municipal-owned restaurant in the Turkish city
Food above all
The group leaders of various political parties had gone to Istanbul last week, at the invitation of the Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality, to study the Bus Rapid Transit System (BRTS), reputed to be one of the best in the world. What impressed some BMC corporators the most, however, were the public restaurants run by the municipality.
The MNS group leader, Sandeep Deshpande, who plans to table the proposal soon, says the idea could help the loss-making BEST generate revenue if the restaurants are set up at bus depots. He explained that having restaurants which could be run by the BMC itself or given to contractors to run at the 26 depots could also help the general populace, as the food would be priced reasonably.
“The travel cost to and from Istanbul was borne by us but that of the stay, food and travel within the city was taken care of by them. Most of us were attracted to the concept of public restaurants as we were taken there for lunch and dinners and we can generate revenue if they are introduced in our city. What’s even better is that we can help the loss-making BEST earn money by doing so.
A part of most of the bus depots can be easily converted to a public restaurant,” said Deshpande. Rais Shaikh, the group leader of the Samajwadi Party, said, “It is important for such study tours to take place as we won’t be able to come up with new ideas unless we visit new places.
They had some brilliant concepts of private water transport and huge markets developed by the municipal corporation. Public restaurants, if started here, could be a great source of income for us.”
A senior BEST officer, on condition of anonymity, said, “We are yet to receive any such proposal. We can comment on it only once we receive it.”
The corporators had intended to make the Istanbul visit in 2013, but had to cancel it after drawing flak from activists for wasting public money. BMC sources said that though the corporators are claiming to have paid for their tickets themselves this time around, they are going to be reimbursed by the civic body.