Senior corporators and committee members of the Brihanmumbai Electricity Supply and Transport (BEST) undertaking on Tuesday stated that heavy fund allotment for the transport undertaking is unlikely in the 2021-22 municipal budget.
Last year, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) had allotted Rs 1,500 crores to the cash-strapped transport undertaking, which had been the highest ever allotment to date. However, owing to the heavy cash crunch due to the pandemic outbreak, BMC had slashed the budget by Rs 500 crores.
“Allotment of fund more than Rs 500 crores to the BEST is unlikely as the BMC itself is struggling hard to meet the estimated revenue target,” Ravi Raja, BMC Leader of Opposition (LoP) and BEST committee member told FPJ.
Of the proposed Rs 1,000 crore aid, the BMC had allotted Rs 872 crores till December 31. Officials in the civic body stated that most of these funds were used in acquiring buses on wet lease and while providing transportation service during the lock-down.
For the 2021-22 year, BEST had tabled a Rs 1,887 crores deficit budget to the BMC standing committee, however, the budget was referred back by the committee, stating that it cannot pass a deficit budget.
The undertaking has already cleared a proposal of acquiring 400 new CNG buses on wet lease, the first lot of these buses are expected to join the BEST fleet by March this year, BEST has also invited tenders for acquiring new 100 double-decker buses for its fleet.
In the proposed budget, the transport undertaking had also stated of upgrading the BEST Prawas app by incorporating smart features like 'Passenger Information System' where passengers will be able to track ETA of buses.
Prabhakar Shinde, senior corporator and group leader of Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in BMC stated, the municipal body should have merged its budget with BEST by this year.
Earlier in December, BMC standing committee chairman – Yashwant Jadhav had told FPJ that the municipal body had already initiated steps to merge both the budgets.
“BEST will cease to operate if BMC stops giving funds to the undertaking, the proposal of merging the budgets was approved unanimously by the standing committee in 2018, yet it has not been incorporated till now by the ruling party,” Shinde told FPJ.