To avoid public criticism, the Shiv Sena has decided to put on hold the hike in BEST bus fare.
The proposal was to be cleared in the BEST committee’s meeting on Tuesday. But Sena executive president Uddhav Thackeray instructed his party members in the committee to put the proposal on hold for a few days, said sources.
The BEST administration has proposed a Rs 2 hike in bus fare. But Dilip Patel, BEST committee member, said: “There is a need to revise the bus fare, but we will allow a Re 1 hike.”
It would have been embarrassing for the Sena had the committee decided to hike the bus fare a day after the party supported the nationwide bandh in protest against the rising fuel prices. Besides it was wary of the criticism by the public, said sources.
“Uddhav instructed us to hold the proposal for a few days as we just had a massive bandh against the fuel price hike,” said a BJP corporator and member of the BEST committee, on the condition of anonymity.
Sena corporator Sanjay Potnis, who is also chairman of the BEST committee, said: “We will write to Prime Minister to reconsider the fuel price hike. So, we will wait for a few more days for their reply before going ahead with the tariff hike.” He, however, did not comment on Thackeray’s instructions.
“The BEST is facing a loss of more than Rs 500 crore every year and if the fares are not hiked, losses would increase by another Rs 60 crore per year,” said Potnis. He added that the Centre should give subsidy and state government should sanction the grant to sustain the BEST undertaking.
The Congress, however, opposed the proposal. Congress corporator Ravi Raja said, “We oppose the proposal as there is no need to hike the tariff.”
In a related development, standing committee chairman Rahul Shewale has written to Chief Minister Ashok Chavan asking him to waive off the passenger tax levied on the BEST tickets. The tax amounts to an annual revenue of Rs 100 crore.
This tax is collected by the state, and if waived off, the BEST will get relief worth Rs 100 crore.