Projecting an annual loss of Rs 26 crore due to constant increase in fuel prices, the Shiv Sena-led Brihanmumbai Electric Supply and Transport (BEST) on Friday asked the BJP-led government to waive off fuel tax for the undertaking.
In a letter penned by BEST Chairman Ashish Chemburkar to Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, the undertaking has asked the government to subsidise the fuel cost for the undertaking.
In a fleet of 3,362 buses owned by BEST, while 1,329 run on diesel, 2,002 run on compressed natural gas (CNG) and 31 are electric buses. The BEST has said that daily losses suffered by its transport wing would increase to more than Rs 5 crore from the current Rs 2.89 crore if the fuel prices do not come down.
According to records, BEST requires almost 74,000 kilolitres of diesel every day to run its fleet. Its daily expenditure on fuel has increased from Rs 44.89 lakh on December 1, 2017 to Rs 53.48 lakh as on June 1, 2018.
“The current financial condition of BEST is deplorable. Despite adopting cost-cutting measures, the transport department faces an annual loss of Rs 2.89 crore every day,” the letter to the CM stated.
“Since May 1, 2018, the fuel costs have only escalated. If this hike continues, we believe the BEST may face losses to the tune of Rs 26.02 crore by the end of the financial year. Because of this, the daily losses would increase to Rs 5.05 crore from Rs 2.89 crore at present. For which, we request the state government to spare BEST from having to pay the fuel tax,” it added.
The BEST, which faces an accumulated loss of Rs 2,000 crore, has reduced its fleet from 4,200 buses to 3,367 in the last 10 years. While it had requested its parent body, Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC), for funds, it was asked to implement cost-cutting measures, including reducing staff and regulating salaries, to improve operations.
“In the current scenario, we are already struggling to handle day-to-day affairs of the undertaking, To add to this, Maharashtra charges 40 per cent tax on fuel, which is amongst the highest in the country. The government should either waive off the tax levied on us or subsidise the prices,” Chemburkar told the Indian Express.