Photo by : BL Soni
Photo by : BL Soni

Mumbai: The budget of the cash-strapped Brihanmumbai Electric Supply and Transport (BEST) will be merged with that of the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation, thereby meeting the undertaking’s long-standing demand. The BEST will also get Rs 100 crore every month from the BMC. The budget merger is likely to take place in the next seven to eight months. This was decided at a meeting between the civic chief, the BMC’s group leaders and the various committee chairpersons.

Significantly, these developments have taken place after the recent appointments — that of the civic chief Pravin Pardeshi and the chief secretary Ajoy Mehta. Both are the blue-eyed boys of Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis. The important twist is that the Shiv Sena-controlled BMC and BEST have been taken by complete surprise. In fact, when the BEST strike was called in January, the Sena union had withdrawn support to it on the very next day.

This Rs 100 crore ‘maintenance’ provided by the BMC will be spent on the salaries of the BEST employees, acquisition of new buses and other various improvements which the undertaking requires.A meeting is expected to be held next month, when this decision is expected to come into effect.

Those present at the meeting included Mayor Vishwanath Mahadeshwar, deputy Mayor Hemangi Worlikar, BMC commissioner Praveen Pardeshi, additional commissioners Ashwini Joshi and Abasaheb Jarhad, standing committee chairman Yashwant Jadhav, education committee chairman Anjali Naik, BEST committee chairman Anil Patankar and other group leaders. “I am happy for BEST as the announcement is a ray of hope.

It’s not going to be easy for BEST to suddenly recover from the losses it has accumulated over decades. It is not yet decided where the Rs 100 crore will be used,” said Patankar. After the meeting, Mayor Mahadeshwar held a press conference, in which he announced that the new municipal commissioner is ready to help improve the economic conditions of the BEST.