Alleging that the 1,000 buses added by the Brihanmumbai Electric Supply and Transport (BEST) to its fleet were bought at rates higher than normal, the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM) has blocked the payment of `60 crore.
Under the JNNURM project, BEST was to be granted a sum of `131 crore. Of the amount, 35% was to come from the central government and 15% from the state government. So far, BEST has only received `71 crore of the total amount.
In a committee meeting on Tuesday, OP Gupta, general manager, BEST, said, “We have fulfilled every condition of bus procurement put forth by the JNNURM. Their claim that the BEST bought the buses at higher rates is untrue as the proposal was sanctioned by them. We have met the authorities in Delhi who have promised that the remaining funds will be sent soon.”
Last year, the BEST bought 800 CNG buses — including long and midi buses — from Ashok Leyland and 200 King Long buses. The long bus was bought for `23 lakh each, midi bus for `19 lakh each while the BEST paid more than 60 lakh for each AC bus.
“As per the JNNURM tender, we chose those who quoted the lowest price and fulfilled the specifications,” said a BEST official on condition of anonymity.
Conditions for JNNURM projects include relaxation of octroi and VAT on buses and implementation of Unified Metropolitan Transport Authority (UMTA) in Mumbai. “Such conditions cannot be fulfilled by BEST alone. We have requested the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation and the state government to help us in this matter. But, we haven’t received any reply as yet,” said Gupta.