Pune: Tukaram Mundhe joined the Pune Mahanagar Parivahan Mahamandal Ltd (PMPML) as its new Chairman and Managing Director (CMD) in March 2017. Citizens were hopeful that major issues related to PMPML will be sorted out. While taking over the charge, he said he will make sure that all buses will be in working condition and commuters will not face problems.
However, no one expected, including PMPML staffers, that stringent action such as sacking will be taken against some. In his nine-month tenure, Mundhe was involved in several controversies regarding raising monthly pass charges of senior citizens and students and termination of the contract of a private bus contractor.
The year was tough for PMPML staffers. Some of them were dismissed while some were suspended. In all, 61 employees have been dismissed while over 200 suspended since Mundhe joined in March.
In August, PMPML discontinued the weekly pass concept. It increased the monthly pass charges for senior citizens and students. Many senior citizens protested against the decision.
Activists started a signature campaign demanding a rollback of the decision. However, Mundhe didn’t change the decision.
Monthly pass rates have increased from Rs 1,200 to Rs 1,400. After the hike of the monthly pass for senior citizens, Mundhe received a threat letter from a senior citizen residing in Sukhsagarnagar. He received four threat letters from the person, which mentioned that he would kill Mundhe if the increase in charges was not rolled back.
However, some decisions taken by Mundhe were welcomed by commuters. The PMPML administration approved an increase in fine on passengers travelling without tickets. It has been increased from Rs 100 to Rs 300. It came into effect from August 22. The PMPML board decided to add 800 buses, 400 CNG and 400 diesel, to their fleet. The administration also added minibuses to their fleet.
There has been a drastic improvement in the functioning of PMPML buses after Mundhe took over as the CMD. On March 29, on the day of his joining the PMPML, the average number of bus breakdowns was 150 daily. Today, it has reduced to 70 per day. As many as 1,098 buses were off the road in the first 8 days of his joining the public transport body.
In the first such action taken at the public utility, he dismissed its former chief engineer Sunil Burse, who was suspended in July 2017 after he allegedly failed to deliver targets pertaining to improving maintenance of buses owned by the public transport body.
Burse had served as the chief engineer from 2007 till July 2017. He had joined PMPML in 1990 as a depot maintenance engineer. Mundhe said Burse was dismissed for dereliction of duties and financial losses.
The PMPML stated that besides being unable to bring about the targeted improvement, Burse also failed to command control over depot engineers. He challenged senior officers and failed to press into service, the required number of buses.
Bhosari depot’s maintenance engineer Sheshnarayan Khedkar was also dismissed for negligence and remaining absent from duty without proper intimation.
The differences between PMPML administration and private contractors came to the fore when Mundhe terminated the contract of one of the private contractors. In November, he terminated the contract with Prasanna Purple Mobility Pvt Ltd for not plying the requisite number of buses as per the terms and conditions of the contract.
According to the contract, the operator had to ply 85 per cent of the buses, said an official. The authorities claimed that within three months, drivers hired by the operator went on a strike for the second time. Moreover, they were not plying 85 per cent of the total number of buses as per the contract. The contract between PMPML and Prasanna Purple Mobility Pvt Ltd was signed on February 13, 2012, for a period of 10 years. The operator should have had 200 buses in his fleet daily. However, he was not plying 170 buses, the mandatory number under the contract.
Year in perspective
- 61 employees dismissed while over 200 suspended till date.
- The contract with Prasanna Purple Mobility Pvt Ltd terminated. The contractor plied 200 buses from Kothrud and Nehrunagar depots (Pimpri-Chinchwad).
- Monthly pass rates increased from Rs 1,200 to Rs 1,400.
- The fine has been increased from Rs 100 to Rs 300 for ticketless travellers.
- 800 buses - 400 CNG and 400 diesel - added to the fleet. The PMPML administration also added midi buses.
- Former chief engineer Sunil Burse dismissed for dereliction of duties and financial losses.
- Bhosari depot’s maintenance engineer Sheshnarayan Khedkar dismissed for negligence and remaining absent from duty without proper intimation.
- Tukaram Mundhe received a threat letter from a senior citizen residing in Sukhsagarnagar in September. He received four such letters within 15 days.