As Shiv Sena corporator Anil Kokil takes his seat as the chairman of the Brihanmumbai Electric Supply and Transport (BEST) undertaking, it is going through its worst financial crisis. It is running a debt of Rs1,175 crore.
The undertaking has not even been able to pay its 42,000 employees their salaries for February.
In his first speech as the chairman, Kokil said that it would be his priority to get the BEST budget — that is running a deficit of Rs590.23 crore — passed. He also said that he would ensure that the workers receive their salaries.
“I will try to solve these issues in the mayor’s meeting with group leaders,” said Kokil. He also said that he would neither accept his felicitation or official car the BEST workers get paid. However, half an hour after his speech, he accepted being felicitated during the BEST Kamgar Sena programme.
Meanwhile, general manager of BEST Jagdish Patil said that the undertaking would face a deficit of Rs300 crore till March end, but efforts are underway to improve the situation.
BEST has applied to banks for loans and Patil said that they would try to release the salaries before March 24, as they expect the banks to release at least Rs 60 crore by then. It has applied for a loan of Rs160 crore from two banks. “We expect the bank to deposit Rs 60 crore in our account on March 22 so that we can release our employees’ salaries the next day,” said Patil.