The Pune Mahanagar Parivahan Mahamandal Limited (PMPML) has said that the organisation could not be held responsible for the death of two persons after one of its parked bus slid down a slope and hit them, adding that the unfortunate incident is a consequence of lack of land for parking and maintenance buses, which forces the transport agency to conduct maintenance checks on public roads.
The public transporter has blamed the two civic bodies for not allotting the vacant octroi posts to park its buses.
Last Monday, a family from Satara arrived in Pune to attend a wedding. They were waiting at the PMPML bus depot at Katraj to take another bus. Suddenly, a bus parked at the spot moved downhill and knocked them down.
Two of the family members succumbed to their injuries. They were Subhash Dange (50) and Sunanda Kakade (45). Three others, Hemlata Dange (70), Susheela Dange (40) and Anushka Dange (20), were injured.
PMPML has launched a probe into the incident, but stopped short of blaming the driver who was checking the fitness of the bus by parking it on the slope.
“This is how it is done. They have to park the buses on slopes on public roads as there is no space to do so in depots which are already crammed with buses through the day and night,” said a senior PMPML official on condition of anonymity.
PMPML officials said all its drivers, mechanics and the engineering staff who take care of the maintenance of the buses are forced to check the fitness on public roads as the transport organisation is woefully short of adequate space to park buses and carry out repairs and replacements.
With limited space to park buses, there have been several cases of theft and vandalism. “It is increasingly becoming to difficult to protect our buses from damages caused by parking them on roads. Because of this, we are incurring heavy expenditure to constantly replace the damaged or stolen parts,” said officials.
PMPML spokesperson Deepak Pardeshi said this wasteful expenditure could be eliminated once the two civic bodies hand over the land where octroi check posts stood.
Another PMPML official said that has not happened despite reminders. “Octroi was scrapped two years back. The staff has been moved to civic headquarters. The space where octroi posts were constructed are lying vacant. Within the limits of both PMC and PCMC, there are 17 such spaces which have been sought by PMPML, but both the civic bodies are taking their own time to take the decision,” said the official.
When contacted, PMPML chairman and MD Shrikar Pardeshi said he is in talks with the municipal commissioners of both the civic bodies and was hopeful of an early decision. “What our officials have told you regarding parking space is true. We are in dire need of space to park our buses. In the absence of adequate parking space, our buses are suffering damages which is putting our meagre finances under strain,” said Pardeshi.
On the allegations made by the transporter, PMC commissioner Kunal Kumar said the land would be handed over on a temporary basis. “We are planning transport hubs at the octroi posts. However, since the plan is taking its time to materialise, we will hand over the octroi posts space to PMPML on temporary basis,” Kumar said, adding that the file would be cleared this week.
PCMC commissioner Rajeev Jadhav said that some spaces would be given. “We will not hand over all the vacant octroi posts to PMPML, but will certainly give some of them. Actually, there are vacant spaces in Pradhikaran and MIDC areas.
We will have to sit with those officials seek their space for PMPML,” he said, adding that a call on the matter has to be taken by the civic general body.