#BESTBachao: Mumbaiites write to Maharashtra CM, want iconic buses to be saved
In a four-part series that began on August 1, HT has been highlighting the crisis at Mumbai’s second largest mass transport systemUpdated: Aug 04, 2017, 10:48 IST
Following HT’s #BESTBachao campaign, the city’s prominent citizens, including transport experts and civic activists, have written an open letter to CM Devendra Fadnavis, urging him to take immediate steps to save the bus service, which is in the midst of its worst crisis.
State industries minister Subhash Desai, who is also guardian minister of Mumbai, also called an urgent meeting of officials from BEST and its parent body, the BMC to discuss the bailout plan on Friday.
Mayor Vishwanath Mahadeshwar, too, called for another meeting of BEST’s group leaders to discuss the problems on Friday evening. Mumbai BJP chief and city legislator Ashish Shelar said he has raised the issue in the state Assembly and his party is in favour of revival of the BEST in the interest of Mumbaikars.
In a four-part series that began on August 1, HT has been highlighting the crisis at BEST, which is Mumbai’s second largest mass transport system after suburban trains, and why it needs to be saved and possible solutions for its revival.
Following the HT series, a group of prominent citizens, including transport experts Ashok Datar, AK Shenoy, Trupti Amritwar Vaitla and prominent citizens from various walks of life Darryl D’Monte ,Vidyadhar Date, Gaurang Damani, GR Vora, Dr Sonali Kelkar and urban planner Sulakshana Mahajan signed an open letter to Fadnavis urging him to step in to support BEST and move focus to public transport in the city. (Full text of the letter on Page 2).
“We have urged Fadnavis, who also heads urban development department, to intervene. Serious and immediate action needs to be taken by the state government and the BMC to work on BEST. Its management, too, needs to take steps,”said transport expert A K Shenoy, one of the signatories to the letter.
In a related development, Desai has convened meeting on the issue.
“Guardian minister Subhash Desai has called an urgent meeting to discuss solutions and the immediate release of a bailout package for BEST, a merger of its transport wing’s budget with that of the BMC and conversion of loans given by BMC to BEST into grants,” said Anil Kokil, BEST committee chairman. Both Desai and Kokil belong to the Shiv Sena, which is the ruling party in the BMC.
Mumbai municipal commissioner Ajoy Mehta, BEST general manager Surendra Bagde and other officials will participate in the meeting called by Desai at his official residence, Kokil said.
Meanwhile, Shelar said the Mumbai BJP is in favour of immediate steps for saving BEST. “It must survive as it is linked with the daily livelihood of the people. First let BMC decide on the bailout package, then ask the state government to step in,” he said.
Experts said promoting public transport like BEST will also help reduce traffic congestion. Meanwhile, the unions of BEST workers on Thursday announced the staff will go on an indefinite strike from August 7 for their demands, which include timely payment of salaries.