In its eight years of existence, its fleet of buses has grown manifold. Pune Mahanagar Parivahan Mahamandal Limited buses now spill over from their depots. The reason cited for not expanding the depots is non-availability of land. The shortage of parking space when expressed in numbers would give a clearer picture. Against at least 18 depots a report of the Central Institute of Road Transport (CIRT) mentions as needed for the PMPML, there are only 10 depots for both Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) and Pimpri Chinchwad Municipal Corporation areas.
It would roughly mean that for every bus parked in a depot — if there is a respectable space between them and they are not crammed like sardines in a tin — another bus has to be parked outside. The parking spaces found for the “extras” are along the roads or at isolated places. They pose a security risk. The depots are also places where the buses undergo repairs. The maintenance of buses parked outside is usually not possible, stated the Chairman and Managing Director of PMPML Dr Shrikar Pardeshi, conveying another fallout of the depot shortage. The issues are many.
“These buses have to be parked along the road and it is a security threat as it is unmanned at night and anybody can enter the bus. Secondly there are chances of theft of spare parts. Maintenance is not possible as the buses are outside the depots. There there are chances of people defacing the unguarded buses and so there is an urgent requirement of land for the depots to park these buses,” said Pardeshi.
As per calculation of PMPML, the parking space required is 130 acres for 2,600 buses. As of now PMPML has only 43 acres of which 28 are in use for depots in Pune city while 15 are in use in the PCMC area.
“The requirement is 87 acres and we fall short of land by around 33 percent. Of this we would require at least 55 acres from PMC and about 30 acres in PCMC area,” said Pardeshi who has written several letters to both PMC and PCMC for land to build the depots.
The letters getting no response, the CMD wrote to the District Collector if some government land can be given to PMPML on the city outskirts. Correspondences to the collectorate for land in Mauje Wagholi, Haveli, Dhairi and Hinjewadi, PMC and PCMC areas reflect the predicament of the transport body that has no land to park its buses.
PMPML has 2,100 buses and under JNNURM another 500 would be added to it to make it 2,600 and an acre can park 20 buses comfortably, according to experts.
Request to part with land where octroi posts owned by the corporations had been located and which had to be given away after octroi was abolished have also not elicited any response. Land to be reserved under the Development Plan for depots has been proposed by the transport body to corporations, the contents of the letter reveal.
One the one hand, there are talks of strengthening the public transport system and on the other, unavailability of land for parking of buses is a hurdle. “With an increase in population to about 68 lakh, the number of buses should increase to more than 3,000. However, if number increases, parking space should at least be 155 acres in tandem with the requirement. The corporations need to think and part with land to make it easy for PMPML,” adds another official from the board.