Pri­vati­sa­tion of BEST in­evitable

The Free Press Journal - - FRONT PAGE -

The BEST un­der­tak­ing -- the erst­while Bom­bay Tramway Com­pany Lim­ited, orig­i­nally set up by the Bri­tish in 1873 -- is inch­ing to­wards pri­vati­sa­tion. Or at least, a part of it, if Ud­dhav Thack­eray is to be be­lieved. ‘‘There could be pri­vati­sa­tion of a few buses but no fi­nal de­ci­sion has been taken yet," Ud­dhav said on Sun­day, even as he un­der­scored that they will not al­low own­er­ship of BEST to slip out of their hands.

That in turn has re­in­forced fears that the gov­ern­ment wants to put all its eggs (read com­muters) in one bas­ket -that is, the Metro.

Shiv Sena, which has con­trol over the BMC and BEST for the last 30 odd years, has good rea­son to think of roping in pri­vate play­ers. The un­der­tak­ing is sad­dled with a huge loss of Rs 1200 crores, which they are not ready to ab­sorb. Nor are they ready to up­grade the buses, so that they can com­plete with the AC rakes on WR and CR. But the big loom­ing threat is the Metro.

Ud­dhav, while speak­ing at a Sthaniy Lokad­hikar Samiti pro­gramme on Sun­day, ap­pealed to BEST work­ers to not to press un­rea­son­able and non-prac­ti­cal de­mands.

“This is not the time to blame each other. BEST is al­ready in a fi­nan­cial cri­sis. Sev­eral schemes have been sug­gested to bring it out of red. If you will push un­rea­son­able de­mands, the losses will mount fur­ther,” said Thack­eray.

He fur­ther said, “I am ready to in­ter­vene any time. But, BEST should sur­vive. Even if it comes to pri­vati­sa­tion, we will only hand over a few buses. The ad­min­is­tra­tion will stay in our hands.”

Ac­tivist Vidyad­har Date al­leged that the pow­ers that be want to hand over the trans­port sys­tem to pri­vate play­ers lock, stock and bar­rel. That is why there are no tak­ers for the is­sues of the trans­port un­der­tak­ing. Ud­dhav and Aa­ditya Thack­eray, chief of Yuva Sena, had given an as­sur­ance on merger of the bud­get of BEST and BMC; how­ever, even that is on hold. Ud­dhav, while re­it­er­at­ing his pledge on Sun­day, said, “I am still firm in my re­solve to merge the bud­get. For that, we need to sit to­gether and find out a solution. Though, the mat­ter is the court, I am ready for a dis­cus­sion.”

Su­nil Prabhu, for­mer Mayor and sit­ting Sena leg­is­la­tor, had de­manded in As­sem­bly that the state should give an an­nual grant of Rs 3000 crore to BEST to bring it out of red.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from India

© PressReader. All rights reserved.