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BEST may not hike ticket prices

mumbai Updated: Feb 16, 2011 01:50 IST
Neha Ghatpande
Neha Ghatpande
Hindustan Times
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The recent Supreme Court judgment allowing the Brihanmumbai Electricity and Supply Transport (BEST) to use the profits earned by its electricity supply wing on improving its transport services means BEST is not likely to hike its bus ticket prices any time soon.

At the BEST committee meeting on Tuesday, general manager OP Gupta said the Supreme Court had allowed the BEST to use the entire profit from its electricity wing any way it wanted. The Maharashtra Electricity Regulatory Commission (MERC) had prevented the BEST from using more than 16% of its profit for anything other than electricity-related work.

The Supreme Court judgment on BEST’s petition against the Electricity Appellate Tribunal and MERC came on February 8.

The BEST had approached the Supreme Court in 2006. BEST can now use more money on improving its transport services. The BEST’s transport service that runs India’s biggest city bus service, suffers losses of Rs 225 crore or Rs 70 lakh a day.

For years the BEST has been diverting profits to the transport wing. But, the MERC, established in 2003, enforced ‘Section 51 of the Electricity Act’ saying a company cannot use profits earned from supply of electricity for any other purpose. Because of this, BEST could divert just 16% of profits to its transport services.

The Supreme Court judgment states that the BEST had been supplying electricity and transport services since several decades before the Act was implemented, and it is also a self-governing body which is why it was free to use its profits for services other than electricity. They should make separate balance sheets for both services.

“It is a victory for Mumbai. The Supreme Court has accepted that BEST is not a company but a public body running both electricity and transport services. Now, we will be able to improve our transport services,” said Sanjay Potnis, chairman of the BEST committee.

According to BEST committee members, this was the result of continuous efforts by the committee members. “We had complained to MERC, but they did not listen, because of which we had to go to the Central Electricity tribunal, which did not accept our plea either. We had no option but to approach the Supreme Court,” said Ravi Raja, BEST committee member.