Mumbai: BMC chief grants Rs 100-crore relief to loss-making BEST
Municipal commissioner has announced grant to its transport unit every month; the BEST's budget will later be merged with the BMC's
In the second big move within a week of taking charge, Municipal Commissioner Pravin Pardeshi has decided to help the loss-making BEST, by announcing a Rs 100 crore grant to it every month. Pardeshi had previously managed to convince civic engineers who were on mass leave to protest the action against a former engineer, to resume work."
Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) officials said it was decided that the grant will be given to the transport section of BEST, so that losses can be recovered. The commissioner has said that there will be a review of the grant every month, revealed sources. The officials also said that the budget of the BEST will later be merged with the BMC. The BEST is currently reeling under a loss of R2,500 crore.
After the BEST was asked by Tata Power to pay pending dues amounting to over R500 crore, it rushed to the BMC administration for help. Tata Power had asked it to at least pay one month's due — R250 crore — immediately. As the BEST doesn't have that amount it approached the civic body.
Transport unit to get grant
After it was discussed with group leaders, it was decided that the power distribution department has made a profit of Rs 150 crore, and it could take care of itself and the BMC should not give money to pay for such things. However, the BEST said that the losses are a burden and this amount will cause further financial issues, so it was suggested that the transport unit of the BEST should be helped on a war footing.
Pardeshi has promised that Rs 100 crore will be paid to BEST every month for the next 6 to 8 months. However, he has clarified that this need not be used for purchase of any new bus, and wet lease option should be considered, said Ravi Raja, Congress group leader. He further said, "The discussion was about paying Rs 250 crore but I objected as there was no need to pay for power, and as the transport section is reeling under losses, there was an important decision to be made about it, which was pending for a long time.
The commissioner has assured that once the general manager of BEST is back from leave, he will sort out the modalities and give the grant immediately.
However, he emphasised that the grant will be monitored and he is not in favour of any new purchases of buses. Interestingly, he has shown interest in commercialisation of depots and of BEST housing complexes, which the previous commissioner did not." Mayor Vishwanath Mahadeshwar said, "We have decided to give Rs 100 crore every month and after this is put to use in a good way, the budgets (of BEST and BMC) will be merged."
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