The Committee members of the Brihanmumbai Electricity Supply and Transport (BEST) Undertaking on Tuesday questioned the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation's (BMC) proposal of granting Rs 400 crore to the transport body in the form of loan.
To ease BEST of its financial burden, the municipal body proposed a Rs 406 crore loan to the cash-strapped transport undertaking in its 2021-22 budget. Earlier, in the 2020-21 budget, the BMC had proposed Rs 1,500 crore to the transport undertaking. However, amid the pandemic outbreak the BMC slashed the budget by Rs 500 crore.
“The BMC has cut the proposed grant to BEST and now granting that amount in the form of a loan, this will not ease the burden on the transport body in any way, rather it will increase our liability,” said Sunil Ganacharya, senior BEST committee member.
In the budget statement, BMC stated that it will be providing the loan amount to clear out the outstanding gratitude dues of 3,649 BEST employees. Ganacharya highlighted instead of providing the fund in the form of loan, BMC could have released the Rs 500 crore which it had slashed from last year’s budget.
“Being a parent body, it's BMC's legal responsibility to provide financial aid to the BEST. The BMC will be charging a 4 per cent interest on the loan amount, then how will the money help us in any way ?,” Ganacharya questioned.
Members of the committee also pointed out, till that BEST have obeyed all the orders that have come from the BMC including the decision to slash the minimum bus fares into Rs 5. Ganacharya also stated, the fare reduction has been an added cause in financial loss of BEST.
Praveen Shinde, BEST chairperson and senior Shiv Sena corporator stated, he will be proposing the demands of the committee members to the municipal commissioner and will also send it to the BMC standing committee for its approval.
“I will also suggest the BMC provide the grant with zero interest rate,” Shinde said. Alongside this, members also questioned the BEST's decision of granting Rs 2 crore to the Maharashtra State Road Transport Corporation (MSRTC). “The proposition of paying Rs 2 crore should be kept on hold as the figures need to be recalculated,” said Prakash Gangadhare, BEST committee member from BJP.