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Mumbai bus operator pays salary in coins; Staff protest

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Mumbai, Apr 03: A banking issue with the Brihanmumbai Electric Supply and Transport (BEST) Undertaking has left around 40,000 of its employees getting a sizable portion of their salaries in the form of coins over the past few months, giving their renumeration an unwanted heft.

Bus

The undertaking, which operates a 4,000-bus strong transport system as well as supplies electricity to some 10 lakh consumers in the metropolis' island district, has been getting massive quantity of coins from passengers by way of ticket fare, as well as cash for power bills.

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Sunil Ganacharya, the senior BEST committee member, said it has a huge amount of money lying in its coffers, but no bank is willing to take it from the undertaking's 100-150 collection points after a contract with a leading private sector bank ended last year.

Some BEST employees, who did not wish to be named, said that getting a small part of the renumeration in coins was always prevalent.

"However, the ratio has grown now. I got Rs 11,000 in cash and coins in my last salary, while the coin-cash amount was Rs 15,000 the previous month. We generally get Rs 1,000 each, mostly in Rs 2, Rs 5 coins and Rs 10 denomination notes, and some part in Rs 10, Rs 50, Rs 100 and Rs 500 notes. The rest is deposited directly into our bank accounts," an employee said.

A BEST conductor said they try to tide over this "weighty" problem by exchanging the coins with passengers and shopkeepers, who need it in large numbers to run their daily businesses.

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