Mumbai civic body rejects BEST’s proposal to install 30,000 advertising kiosks on electric poles
The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) has rejected the proposal of Brihanmumbai Electricity Supply and Transport (BEST) to install 30,894 advertisement kiosks on electric poles in the island city, citing the safety of the pedestrians and motorists.
The BEST, on the other hand, has written back to BMC to reconsider the decision as it will cause ₹24 crore loss to the already loss-making transport body. The Congress has alleged that the BMC is helping the private contractor to exit the project by not permitting him.
The BEST, before the lockdown, had appointed a private contractor for generating revenue from advertisements from electric poles in the island city. As per the agreement between the contractor and BEST, the contractor is ought to pay BEST ₹8 crore yearly between 2020 and 2023, which amounts to ₹24 crore for a period of three years. However, the contract was given on the condition that the contractor will get a no-objection certificate (NOC) from the civic body and Mumbai Traffic Police.
Following this, the contractor had applied for the NOC from the BMC before the lockdown. The BMC’s license department recently wrote back stating, “Electric poles are erected on the footpath having narrow access, including the divider on road. Considering the direction of the Bombay high court (HC) dated June 27, 2019, the BMC shall not grant permission for the subject kiosks. Considering the application for installation cannot be approved, it is thus rejected.”
The BEST is the electricity distribution company in the island city.
Subsequently, the general manager of the BEST, Surendra Kumar Bagde, wrote to BMC stating, “I would like to bring to your notice that BEST is facing huge financial loss, as we provide services in a very economical way. Under these conditions, the revenue from non-tariff and non-ticketing avenues assume the most significance. The advertising revenue through kiosks will be able around ₹8 crore annually. I assure, that our bidder shall abide by all the safety protocols suggested by the BMC. Given the above, I sincerely request you grant permission to all agencies appointed by the BEST.”
However, the BMC has relied on the Bombay high court order dating back to June 2019. The BMC, while rejecting the proposal has directed its officials to frame a policy within six months, and has also said that in the larger public interest and public safety the BMC shall forego some revenue.
However, Congress corporator Ravi Raja who is also BEST Committee Member and leader of Opposition in the BMC said, “I have written to the BMC that the joint municipal commissioner has rejected the proposal. This denial is a contractor driven decision and this must not be tolerated considering the BEST is already under severe financial losses. I have requested municipal commissioner Iqbal Singh Chahal to take action in the matter, failing to which, I shall approach the anti-corruption bureau.”
Anand Wagaralkar, joint municipal commissioner of the BMC was unavailable for comment citing his busy schedule.
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