AFTER sacking chief engineer Sunil Burse for not maintaining buses properly, Pune Mahanagar Parivahan Mahamandal Ltd (PMPML) Chairman and Managing Director Tukaram Mundhe has shown the door to a private bus contractor after his employees went on strike.
Early this morning, bus commuters in Pimpri-Chinchwad and Kothrud area suffered inconvenience after 200 buses belonging to the private contractor went off roads in protest against the non-payment of salaries.
The buses went off roads in the morning and by afternoon, the PMPML chief decided to terminate the services of Prasanna Purple, the private contractor. “We have ended our contract with the private contractor,” a PMPML spokesperson said.
On his part, Mundhe clarified that the private contractor was not running all the buses every day which forced them to hold back their payment. PMPML spokesperson Subhash Gaikwad said they had taken all the 200 buses in their possession. “From tomorrow, we will run the 200 buses on our own,” he said.
Gaikwad said that though some commuters could have been inconvenienced, the PMPML had plied buses from the stock which took care of the commuter rush.
Prasanna Patwardhan, Chairman and Managing Director of Prasanna Purple, said, “The PMPML owes around Rs 16 crore to us which is the payment for the past two and a half months. The drivers and conductors have not received payment for the last one month. On top of this, PMPML says we owe them in crores… this is just not true.”
Patwardhan said, “We tried our level best to cope with the cash crunch created by the PMPML. Today, after giving an ultimatum, our drivers went on strike.”
He alleged that Mundhe’s objective from day one was to “throw them out for reasons best known to him”. He said that in any case they were fed up of Mundhe’s working style and serving PMPML was neither giving them job satisfaction nor financial benefits. “Under the circumstances, we have given a letter to PMPML board to relieve them from the duty,” he said.
Civic activists said the decision was sudden and surprising. “When you run a public undertaking, you are not supposed to take sudden and arbitrary decision. There should be more dialogue and discussion rather than the decision being arrived at unilaterally,” said Prashant Inamdar of Pedestrians First.