BEST pending electricity bills cross INR 100 crores mark

In Mumbai, the pending electricity bills of BEST have crossed the INR 100 crores mark due to the coronavirus-infused lockdown imposed in the state.

BEST pending electricity bills cross INR 100 crores mark

The Brihanmumbai Electric Supply and Transport (BEST) pending electricity bills in Mumbai have crossed the INR 100 crores mark due to the coronavirus-infused lockdown. Moreover, several consumers are reportedly yet to pay their bills since April last year.

According to a report in the Times of India, as per an official, the BEST has given repeated reminders, besides introducing two new schemes a few months back to waive delayed payment charges and interest on arrears. Moreover, it offered three month-installments to those with high bills between Colaba/Cuffe Parade and Sion/Mahim. Currently, BEST plans to authorize notices for disconnecting supply if payments are not made on time.

On the other hand, BEST, which has been battling financial struggles has been having a difficult time trying to pay the salaries to the employees due to severe losses for the past several years. In view of the situation, the BEST joint workers action committee has urged Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray to allow merging the budget of the BEST with Mumbai’s municipal budget, further putting a pause on privatization and saving BEST.

Mumbai’s civic body, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) has supported BEST by providing funds and low-interest loans. However, as it is a parent organization, the organizations are demanding to merge BEST's budget with the municipal budget. Moreover, the action committee has alleged that it is being ignored. On August 7, 2017, CM Thackeray had also given an assurance in this regard.

However, BEST's interests in merging the budget with the municipality's budget have not yet materialized. Two years ago, BEST was given INR 2,000 crores by breaking reserves whereas last year it was given INR 1,500 crores. However, the provision was reduced to INR 1,000 crores after the outbreak of the coronavirus increased its expenditure. Out of this, INR 918 crores has been given to BEST till January 2021.

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