An individual official can introduce sweeping changes in the system with the help of the existing rules and regulations. This has been amply proved in the country when TN Seshan took over as the Election Commissioner of India a few decades ago.
During his long career as a government bureaucrat, Seshan had never shown sparks and was considered as a normal civil service official following diktats of his political and administrative bosses. But once he took over the reigns of the Constitutional post, Seshan for the first time brought into force various rules in an election period. Since Independence, these rules had remained on paper but when Seshan implemented these rules on walls defacing, election spending, noise pollution and so on, there was no one to stop him. Seshan retired many years ago but the rules enforced by him are followed to this date.
There are many government officials who try to follow in the footsteps of Seshan to enforce the existing rules with an aim to improve the situation. Tukaram Munde, who has now been shifted as the Pune Mahanagar Parivahan Mahamandal Limited (PMPML) Chairman and Managing Director, has been hailed as one of those officials who took stringent measures to improve the ailing public transport utility. Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis had promised that Munde would be allowed to complete his full term but the bureaucrat was shifted abruptly.
Munde, who was not happy with his posting as PMPML CMD had delayed taking over the charge. Nonetheless soon after taking over, Munde took a tough stance against all those who proved a hurdle in smooth functioning of the public transport organisation. As a result, he had to face the wrath of the office bearers - both of the Pune Municipal Corporation and Pimpri Chinchwad Municipal Corporation, the two civic bodies, which are the main financials of the PMPML. Munde had initiated stern action against the erring private bus contractors, who did not follow the rules mentioned in their contracts.
Simultaneously, Munde also attempted to set his own house in order, as he took action against the inefficient, careless PMPML officials and staff. As a result, some of the staff had to face the axe.
Munde’s measures won the media attention and were naturally lauded by the general public. Only a few years ago, the PMPML had got another such efficient CMD, Dr Shrikar Pardeshi, who had transformed the transport utility in a short span of period. But there lies a major difference.
Instead of fighting against the politicians and the powerful contractors’ lobby, Dr Pardeshi had given a priority in setting the PMPML house in order. He shifted the inefficient officials, concentrated on improving maintenance and bringing a maximum number of buses on road. He tried to improve the transport organisation while fully realising his limitations and the rigid government system. He said that his aim was to win the faith of the PMPML passenger as a reliable bus service and he tried his best to achieve this.
It is unlikely that Munde’s measures have improved a lot for lakhs of PMPML passengers. The measures have led to many PMPML buses being off the road and overcrowding in the buses and delayed bus frequencies. The PMPML needs an official who will avoid being at loggerheads at all times with all stakeholders. The interests of the PMPML commuters should be given the top priority. After all, the public health of a city is judged by the quality of the public transport it has.