Mumbai's red colour public bus service of Brihanmumbai Electricity Supply and Transport (BEST) is no doubt sitting on several chunks of over 300 acres - equivalent to almost 14 Oval Maidans - of prime areas across the city on which they have bus depots, offices and residential staff quarters. Now they are planning to redevelop the housing quarters – there are at least 50 such buildings across Mumbai – which is also expected to be commercially exploited as part of its redevelopment project.
Sources in BEST Undertaking said that in the first phase they will be going for redevelopment of residential staff quarters across the city. These staff quarters are in prime locality outside bus stations, depots or even railway stations. One might find these at locations of Worli, Wadala, Colaba, Parel, Andheri, Ghatkopar etc.
There are more than 150 buildings and quarters that the BEST own across 300 acres of land across Mumbai city and suburbs. Of these at least 50 buildings are residential quarters that house 34000-odd BEST employees. The area of land on which these residential staff quarters exist hasn’t been disclosed.
“There is a need for redeveloping staff quarters as these have become quite old and are in need of repairs. There are around 50 odd such residential staff quarters spread across the city and suburbs of Mumbai. We are also in talks with international financial institutions like World Bank, KfW Bank and others to understand how they can help us in redeveloping the buildings owned by BEST,” explained a BEST official on condition of anonymity.
Sources said that these financial institutions could probably provide help in funding, giving path on ways to redevelop such huge spate of prime properties and how well can the BEST commercially exploit their assets to its full potential. There is every possibility that as part of the redevelopment process, the BEST could also give additional floor space index (FSI) to developers for sale of flats, though all this will depend on the final decision that the BEST Undertaking shall take.
This comes at a time when BEST’s financial condition continues to go red. For the year 2021-22, the BEST showed a deficit of Rs 1887 crore and now the proposed budget for 2022-23 has projected another Rs 2230 crore. The accumulated losses of BEST stood at Rs 4200 crore which was apart from loans taken to the tune of Rs 1400 crore till September 2021.