The Brihanmumbai Electric Supply and Transport (BEST) undertaking has presented a deficit budget of Rs 1,887 crore for financial year 2021-22.
Presenting the estimated budget before BEST’s standing committee, General Manager Surendra Kumar Bagde said the undertaking is projected to spend Rs 6,827.83 crore on its bus operations and electricity supply but stands to generate revenue of only Rs 4,939 crore.
BEST’s earning from its transportation wing is estimated to dip to Rs 1,407 crore against expenditure of Rs 3,039.24 crore in operating a total of 3,675 buses, of which BEST owns 2,875 buses. Another 800 have been acquired on wet-lease. “For fiscal 2021-22, our target is to increase our ridership to over 30 lakh daily for which we will need more buses. We are targeting to double our fleet to about 6,337 buses by March 2022,” said Bagde.
The budget includes a capital outlay of Rs 446.07 crore.
Officials attributed the huge gap between BEST’s earning and expenditure to the social distancing norms it has to follow on buses. BEST is allowing only one passenger per seat and limited number of standing passengers. BEST committee member Ravi Raja said, “The losses it has incurred in the last six months will have a huge bearing on the estimated budget for 2021-22. Once the actual budget for 2020-21 is out on March 21, the exact losses of the ongoing year will be clear and how badly it has hit BEST’s account books for the coming year.”
According to a senior BEST official, while the bus fleet can carry about 36 lakh commuters, which was its ridership before the lockdown, presently it is carrying about 18 lakh people owing to social distancing norms. “BEST’s earning per bus is Rs 1.8 crore while it can make up to Rs 3.6 crore per bus. We have urged the state government to allow buses to run to full capacity like MSRTC,” he added.
BEST Additional General Manager Rajendra Madane said, “As buses are running with only one passenger per seat, passengers crowd the standing area as they have no other option to travel with restrictions on trains. We would urge the government to allow us to run to full capacity as it will reduce the risk of transmission among those standing and also increase our revenue.”
The estimated budget also shows BEST’s electricity wing that supplies power to about 10 lakh people in the island city to incur losses of Rs 263.59 crore with expenditure at Rs 3,795.89 crore and earning projected at Rs 3,532.30 crore.
BEST has also sought financial aid from BMC, its parent body, to bridge the revenue deficit. BEST struggled to pay salary of its employees for September and after getting a grant of Rs 60 crore, it could gather Rs 100 crore to pay its employees.
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