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EIGHT days after Tukaram Mundhe took charge as chairman and managing director of the loss-making Pune Mahanagar Parivahan Mahamandal Limited (PMPML) amid high expectations, there has been little respite for hapless commuters, who are often forced to get out of the buses and continue their journey under the blazing sun, as the buses continue to break down. Despite Mundhe’s stern directive on March 29, the day he took charge — to reduce the breakdown of buses to zero — over 1,000 PMPML buses have broken down in the last eight days.
On an average, almost 125 buses owned by the PMPML break down every day in different parts of the city. On an average, 140 buses owned by private contractors break down daily. In Mundhe’s eight-day tenure till April 5, as many as 1,098 buses owned by the PMPML broke down. Between March 21 and 28, right before Mundhe joined, as many as 1,133 buses had broken down in eight days. In fact, the day he joined, as many as 167 PMPML buses broke down, the highest figure of his eight-day tenure. Mundhe embarked on his PMPML innings by taking action against “late-comers” and those found sleeping on duty. His actions drew wide publicity from the media and praise from commuters.
While applauding his effort to discipline the staff, commuters’ organisations said Mundhe should focus on getting more buses on the roads, so that commuters don’t have such a tough time. “Mundhe has done the right thing by wasting no time in acting against lazy staff. He should also target those responsible for the breakdown of buses,” said Jugal Rathi, convener of the PMP Pravasi Manch.
Prashant Inamdar, of Pedestrians First, said,”The number of buses on the road are only 60 per cent of the total fleet. It should actually be 80 per cent. Mundhe should set a monthly target to achieve 80 per cent fleet utilisation”. Inamdar said one of the major causes of the breakdown of buses was the use of duplicate or sub-standard spare parts. “It has come to light several times in the past that spare parts used for PMPML buses are either of sub-standard quality or not authentic. Mundhe should get to the bottom of this problem,” he said.
Rathi said about five or six years ago, when 1,300 buses were plying on Pune roads, nearly 13 lakh commuters travelled on PMPML buses every day. “Now, even with 1,200 buses on the roads, the number of commuters has gone down to 10 lakh… there is a nexus between contractors and officials which needs to be busted…,” he said.
While Mundhe remained unavailable for comment despite repeated attempts to contact him, PMPML chief engineer Sunil Burse confirmed that Mundhe had issued directives to bring down the figure of breakdown of buses to zero. “His directives were issued on the day he joined,” said Burse. A top PMPML official said it was too early to form a judgement about Mundhe’s performance.. “He has taken some steps and the results will take time to show,” said the official.