IF you happen to leave your bag,purse,mobile or any other article in a PMPML or state transport bus,be prepared to never see them again.
While 12.36 lakh passengers travel in the PMPML-owned 1,407 buses daily and instances of passengers forgetting such articles on the bus or in the station area are common,as per information obtained from PMPML authorities in reply to an RTI query by The Indian Express,only 283 goods were deposited with the Lost Property department of the PMPML by the conductors and drivers from January 2011-January 2012. Of this,only 46 items were returned to owners. Interestingly,PMPML also charges Rs 30 from the claimant as registration fees for lost property for returning the found goods,the RTI query revealed.
Surprisingly,the PMPML does not keep a record of the complaints of lost goods received by the Lost Property helpline which would have helped the authorities in identifying and returning the goods as well as assessing the differences between the complaints received and the goods returned.
Given the huge number of commuters that travel in PMPML buses everyday,the number of goods deposited with the Lost Property department is abysmally low. But what is more shocking is that they dont keep a record of the lost property complaints received by the helpline. Ideally,they should take down the complaint,check with the bus conductor and depot manager concerned and note down the action taken subsequently. This data,if analysed,will also bring to light if the the incidents of missing goods not being deposited with PMPML authorities take place more with a particular conductor, said Prashant Inamdar of Pedestrians First.
Jugal Rathi of PMP Pravasi Manch said many commuters were not aware about the Lost and Found helpline (24503300) and dont know who to contact. Around two years ago,the PMPML had agreed to print the Lost and Found Helpline number in all the buses,but nothing happened, said Rathi.
The activist also slammed the transport body for charging Rs 30 for returning the goods. They say that while the total money collected would not add much to the treasury of PMPML,it shows the kind of apathy and the attitude PMPML has towards its passengers.
A PMPML conductor said,If somebody does get his or her article back,it is only because of the honesty shown by the conductor or driver concerned. Invariably,the conductor or driver pocket the abandoned goods when they inspect the bus after all passengers have disembarked. If conductors miss such goods,the cleaning staff gets hold of them. In fact,the only articles that reach the lost-found department are things such as bags with used clothes,umbrellas or files with documents.
Haridas Konde,in-charge of the Lost Property department of PMPML,said,If the found article contains cash,we deposit the money with our Petty Cash department. The rest of the unclaimed goods are auctioned after two-three years.
A similar RTI query with the Pune Division of Maharashtra State Road Transport Corporation (MSRTC) revealed that 262 articles were deposited with the depot authorities in one year of which 43 goods were returned to owners. The Pune Division also earned Rs 19,559 by auctioning the remaining 219 goods.
As per information provided by the office of Divisional Traffic Controller,38 articles were deposited with the Shivajinagar Depots,of which 10 were returned while 28 went under the hammer. A total of 42 articles were deposited with Swargate Depot,of which 24 were returned and 18 auctioned. In Pimpri-Chinchwad depots,41 items were deposited but none could be returned to owners and all of them were auctioned.
The articles only get deposited if the driver or conductor finds them on the bus. Many times,fellow passengers walk off with goods left behind by a commuter. We seldom receive valuable articles such as cash,mobile or watches, said a traffic controller with an MSRTC depot.