Mumbai: Only a meagre sum of Rs 34.10 crore has been allocated to BEST in the BMC’s budget for Financial Year 2019-20. This, despite facing one of its worst financial crisis ever, of Rs 1022 crore, this year. “First implement the reforms, negotiate and then come back to us,” Municipal Commissioner of the BMC Ajoy Mehta said at a press conference on Monday. He reiterated that wet-leasing would solve half the financial problems of BEST.
The BEST Kamgar Karmachari Sanghatana Kruti Samiti (KKSKS) had demanded a merger of the BEST budget with that of the BMC, upgrading of the pay scales of workers and implementation of the entire charter of demands. Shanshank Rao, leader of the BEST workers’ union, said, “The budget shows BMC ignorance and their indifference towards the BEST. BMC should take demands of the striking employees more seriously.”
Forget a merger of budgets, opposition has alleged that it is a conspiracy to shut down the transport wing. “It is a BMC ploy to privatise BEST and that is why they are not allocating funds to it,” said Congress corporator and leader of the opposition Ravi Raja.
Around 32,000 BEST employees, under the leadership of Rao, had gone on a strike for eight days. This was the longest strike in the history of BEST and the union finally accepted the ’10-step increment’ pay hike proposal that was offered to them as an interim measure. The loss made by BEST in eight days of the strike was Rs 20 crore