The BrihanMumbai Electricity Supply and Transport (BEST) buses had emerged as the lifeline for commuters amidst the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent lockdowns. On humanitarian grounds, the undertaking paid an ex-gratia amount of Rs 45 crore to 90 families of the employees who succumbed to the virus. It has also provided employment to 70 people who are the next of kin of such employees.
“We have provided compensation of Rs 50 lakh each to 90 families and have also provided employment to 70 people,” said a senior BEST official. As on date, 3,474 employees have contracted the virus, out of which 3,350 employees have been cured. There are still 11 employees who are undergoing treatment, two of them are on oxygen and one employee is on a ventilator. 110 employees lost their lives to the virus, of which 90 have been compensated with Rs 50 lakh.
Meanwhile, wet lease bus drivers too have been demanding COVID-19 allowance of Rs 300 per day and Rs 50 lakh financial aid in case of death from virus. There are 1,243 buses on wet lease run by 2,500 drivers.
The BEST administration hasn’t paid COVID-19 allowance to their own employees from June 2020 to December 2020, which comes to Rs 60 crore. BEST unions have already demanded that, from January this year, the daily allowance should be raised to Rs 500 and given to both the employees of BEST and wet lease drivers.