In what is termed as an initiative to make better use of its assets, the Brinhanmumbai Electric Supply and Transport system (BEST) plans to commercially exploit the plots owned by it.
The undertaking’s existing immoveable assets include 29 bus depots, 30 bus stations and 12 staff quarters, which BEST plans to use for generation of permanent revenue without affecting their principal use.
At a meeting of the BEST Committee on Wednesday, the members finalised the consultants, who will study a total of 71 identified properties for commercial viability. BEST plans to have dedicated parking space for state transport buses coming from other states, increase parking facilities for other vehicles and open other avenues to generate revenue if the area is near a business hub.
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“Facilities like installing ATVMs, building more staff quarters for BEST employees and adding housing properties on the land are being planned. Besides, utilising the space to keep bunker beds bus drivers’ rest, build more toilets and other passenger amenities are also under consideration. The land will be given for development to private entities for a period of 10-15 years. BEST will remain the owner of the land,” said Jagdish Patil, General Manager, BEST.
The consultants, PricewaterhouseCoopers Limited in consortium with Aakar Architects and Consultants, are expected to do a detailed study of each of the plots within eight months. They will will also help decide on the kind of financial model required to be adopted.
Some members of the committee, however, raised concerns over appointing a consultant. Kedar Hombalkar, a BEST
committee member, said, “This is definitely a better way in which BEST can make profits with the present assets owned by the transport system. But if BEST is equipped with trained personnel for the same, I do not see a need for hiring a consultancy firm, which will add up to the costs.”
Facing losses to the tune of over Rs 900 crore, BEST hopes to make huge profits from the move. Earlier, BEST had utilised six of its plots for either commercial use or to build staff quarters and earned around Rs 600 crore.
Meanwhile, BEST Committee members opposed giving away 300 buses to private contractors for driving and maintenance, expressing disappointment over not being provided a detailed plan before tenders were inviting. Patil, however, said only an expression of interest had been floated, and a committee meeting would be convened to inform the members of the plan.