November 16, 2011 2:03:14 am
Objecting to a proposal for a hike in Brihanmumbai Electric Supply & Transport (BEST) undertakings tariffs,committee members from the Congress staged a walkout on the first day of discussions on the 2012-13 budget.
The members said they will not participate in the budget discussions anymore,saying a fare hike proposal months before the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) elections does not bode well for the party. We have elections in three months and the Congress does not want to head into elections with this budget, committee member Ravi Raja,who led the walkout,said.
If we want to increase revenue,it should not be from the pockets of passengers. We should explore other options,such as increasing income from advertising,depot commercialisation and so on, Raja said,adding till now BEST has not been able to effectively tap this revenue.
Last month,general manager O P Gupta had said that BEST will propose a Re 1 hike in bus fares and a 15 per cent rise in electricity tariff to keep up with rising costs.
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Suggesting that BEST plug its revenue leakages rather than raise fares,Raja said on an average about 570 buses of the undertakings total fleet were not on the road during 2010-11,causing a loss of nearly Rs 139 crore. During the same year,barely 2 per cent of the total bus routes ran in profit,he added.
Dilip Patel,a committee member from the BJP,said BEST has to ensure that the budget is passed on or before November 20 and presented before the standing committee not later than November 24.
Other members of the committee said this was not the first time that Congress members had walked out during a budget discussion meeting. Sunil Shinde,the committee chairman,said the Opposition did not act in a responsible manner.
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