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Congress: State should bail out BEST

With cumulative losses of Rs 3,000 crore, BEST undertaking effected a hike of Rs 1-10 for tickets on regular buses

Written by Tanushree Venkatraman | Mumbai |
February 2, 2015 4:00:22 am

The recent fare hike by the city’s public bus transport utility has triggered a political war of words between the Congress and the Shiv Sena, with the former demanding that the BJP-Shiv Sena state government chip in with funds to avoid another tariff hike soon.

With cumulative losses of Rs 3,000 crore, the BEST undertaking on Sunday effected a hike of Rs 1-10 for tickets on regular buses, and Rs 5-Rs 30 for air-conditioned bus tickets. Unable to secure another loan from its parent body, the BMC, the BEST undertaking has planned another fare hike in April.

Pramod Mandrekar, Congress member on the BEST committee, said, “We can cite local examples. Pune Municipal Corporation and the Kalyan Dombivali Corporation and the Mira Road-Bhayander civic body take complete responsibility for public transport. If the cash-rich BMC cannot aid BEST, it is the obligatory duty of the state government to step in.”

Against the backdrop of the Lok Sabha and Assembly polls last year, the BMC had given the BEST a subsidy of Rs 150 crore to avoid fare hikes. However, a repeat of this subsidy was denied this year.

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Congress corporator Shivji Singh said, “The civic body is still functioning on an archaic law (MCGM Act, 1888). In this day and age, it is impossible for a public transport system to be self-sufficient. The state should help.”

Interestingly, until last year, when the Congress-NCP was in power in the state, the Congress had maintained that the transport authority’s business was the prerogative of the BMC alone.

Sena member Suhas Satam said the April fare hike cannot be deferred. “We will seek funds from the state. The previous Congress-NCP government never paid any heed to our demands.”

tanushree.venkatraman@expressindia.com

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First published on: 02-02-2015 at 04:00:22 am

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