9 drivers still on job; no breath analyser tests
A drunk driver had come to the limelight for last weeks tourist bus accident that cost 30 lives in Osmanabad,but there are many drivers of PMPML who escape such glaring notice.
If caught,drivers of Pune citys transport service are let off lightly or the transport administration takes its own time to act against them,as gauged from an RTI query by The Indian Express.
The RTI query reveals that 17 PMPML drivers have been caught driving in an inebriated state since PMPML came into existence in October 2007,and nine of them are still driving on the citys congested roads as the probe has been pending. One of the drivers was caught twice,taking the driving-under-the-influence count to 18.
Three drivers were removed from service. Of these,two were actually driving buses taken on contract.
A permanent PMPML driver has been issued show-cause notice as to why he should not be dismissed. Two drivers have been warned not to repeat the offence or face serious action. One driver lost his annual increment. Another has been involved in an accident. Two have been fined Rs 100 each drawing criticism from commuter organisations that said it was too meagre for so serious an offence to be an effective deterrent.
All the drivers were caught by commuters who found them either speeding or driving rashly. They reported them to police.
Citing an example,Subhash Gaikwad,the officer conducting the departmental investigations said,Driver Santosh Wayse was driving rashly. Passengers told him to drive slow. He did not pay heed. They took him to police. Tests found that he had consumed alcohol.
As for the nine errant drivers still at the steering wheel,he said,Initial action of suspension was taken against them. They probably rejoined duty. The probe is still on against them…
The PMPML has conceded that it does not put drivers to breath anyalyser tests before they take charge of a bus. Joint managing director Satish Kulkarni said,We have nearly 1,500 drivers on duty every day. It is practically impossible to conduct the test on each.
A N Anpur,general secretary of PMT Kamgar Sangh said breathalyser should be mandatory. Although the fraction of drivers taking to the wheel in an inebriated state is small,the PMPML administration should conduct tests to avoid any untoward incident…
He criticised the PMPML administration,alleging it has been doing little to create awareness on safe driving. There are no de-addiction centres or meditation camps for drivers and conductors,constantly under work and family pressure. The administration comes hard on employees,but does little for their benefit, Anpur said.
PMPML spokesperson Deepak Pardeshi said they might consider making breath analyser tests compulsory.
Prashant Inamdar,convenor of Pedestrians First,said they are in favour of breath anaylser tests. It should at least be conducted randomly. A squad to conduct such tests would frighten drivers…As for Rs 100 fine for drunk drivers,I think it is ridiculous.