Last Wednesday was a normal working day when suddenly, the much anticipated news of the transfer of Pune Mahanagar Parivahan Mahamandal Limited (PMPML) Chairman and Managing Director (CMD) Tukaram Mundhe shook the entire city. He was transferred to Nashik as Municipal Commissioner bringing a sudden halt to various reforms that were taking place in the transport body.
During his brief tenure of 10 months as CMD of PMPML, Mundhe fearlessly took decisions which did not go down well with activists, corporators and politicians of the city. A favoured child suddenly became a sore point in the eyes of the people who claimed to have brought him here to improve the public transport system and turn into a profit making body.
His tough decisions, without much tom-tomming them, though were taken keeping the commuters’ interests in mind, were always seen through the other way round. Interestingly, he took over the charge on March 29, 2017 and the very first day made every single employee work, including those who took their job lightly.
He ensured that maximum number of buses ply on the road and the waiting time of passengers at bus stop gets reduced. He worked towards it and made it a reality. Mundhe did his homework well before implementing any new thing. He made a meticulous study about the buses plying on various routes, travel time (destination to destination), traffics on roads, duty hours of drivers and conductors, schedule of the buses etc..
Within a month, he started sacking employees who were on contractual basis citing the reason that they were excess and a burden on already the loss making body. To say the least, it garnered him the negative publicity sending a wrong message to the employees. He directed the contractors who had leased out their buses to PMPML to ply maximum buses on the road as per the contract with the transport body.
Before he took over as CMD of PMPML, around 1,100-1,200 buses were plying on road, of which around 550-600 were of PMPML while the rest were of the contractors. Likewise, PMPML was reeling under heavy losses.
According to a report tabled before Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) in November 2016, the PMPML’s income was Rs 309.3 crore from April to October last year. The income during the same period in 2018 was estimated to be around Rs 321.54 crore. An average of Rs 1.50 lakh per day income was earned by PMPML.
In November, without any prior notice, Mundhe terminated the contract with Prasanna Purple Mobility Solutions, as the drivers went on a flash strike, causing immense inconvenience to the passengers. Probably, this move proved fatal for his tenure. As per the sources from PMPML, the lobby worked hard day in and day out to ensure that he is toppled as CMD of PMPML.
Certainly, not only the lobby that worked against his favour but PMC and PCMC corporators were hands in gloves for removing him as he always vehemently refused to be the part of the meetings called by them saying his presence was unimportant as he has submitted the reports to the Standing Committee.
The egos that were crushed by him, worked perfectly against him. His mantra to his employees was work according to the rule and not against it. The workers’ union too were unhappy with him as he refused to bow to their pressures or demands.
In a daring act, last October, he put a lock on NCP workers’ union office without giving any prior notice and in January this year, refused to give permission to INTUC to protest against the PMPML.
The political lobby too was unhappy and disgruntled politicians kept complaining against him to the higher authorities in Mantralaya in Mumbai. Apparently, those who played a major role in appointing him as CMD of PMPML, took a sharp U-turn and played important role in removing him from the post.
The experts who understand bureaucracy said that “You cannot make everyone happy. He was working for the betterment of the public transport, he disciplined errant drivers and conductors who would speak in abusive language with the passengers. He sacked them as he believed that ‘we are here to give service and not to argue with anyone.’ ‘’