April 4, 2021 10:46:03 pm
The city’s transport undertaking, Pune Mahanagar Parivahan Mahamandal Ltd (PMPML), has refused to resume bus services for essential workers, such as hospital and civic employees, for the second day in a row. This has made it difficult for them to report to their workplaces, while the industrial sector has taken a massive hit after being forced to plan four-day or six-day holiday for employees, who have no means to reach their workplace.
All the industrial units at Pimpri-Chinchwad Bhosari MIDC, Chikhali-Kudalwadi-Talwade, Talegaon, Chakan and Ranjangaon have been affected. “We estimate that over 50 lakh employees work at these units. The major ones are concentrated in Bhosari MIDC and Chakan area where PMPML buses ferry workers from Pune, Pimpri-Chinchwad and Talegaon,” said Abhay Bhor, president, Forum for Small Scale Industries Association.
Bhor said production has been affected as industrial units have lined up four-day and six-day leave for their workforce. “The loss for industrial units will be in crores… A majority of their workforce come from far-flung areas and use PMPML buses… Not a single PMPML bus has plied in the last two days; how do you expect workers to reach their destination? Not everyone has a two-wheeler, 70,000 women alone work in Bhosari MIDC area out of the three-and-a-half lakh workforce… They rely heavily on PMPML buses; 50 per cent of this workforce comes from Pune area, autorickshaws do not ply long distances,” he said.
Bhor also said PMC and PCMC orders that industrial units should make their own arrangements were odd. “Large industrial units may have their buses, but what about those with 10 to 15 employees? They cannot afford to have a bus service,” he said.
Essential workers continued to face issues for the second day as not a single PMPML bus was running on Sunday. “Out of 2,300 buses at our disposal, we used to ply at least 1,500 buses. We were planning to open up fully but restrictions have come into place again,” said PMPML traffic manager Dattraya Zende.
Zende said the orders did not specifically mention routes on which they wanted buses to ply. “On Sunday, we received the PCMC order… Therefore, from Monday, 30 buses will ply for PCMC’s zonal offices and for staff of YCM hospital,” said Zende, adding that the transport undertaking had not received any orders from the PMC so far.
District Collector Rajesh Deshmukh said, “I will talk to PMPML about this… When the order specifically mentions that buses should be made available for essential workers, it is understandable, there is no need for a separate order.”
Pune MP Girish Bapat said, “I have been agitating for the past two days that PMPML services should be made available for industrial workers and staff involved in essential services… The administration should act quickly or the industry will suffer.”
“If PMPML buses were needed for emergency services or for private contract use by companies or private hospitals, we can provide them at rental rates, from point to point. Not on regular routes and bus stops, but according to actual needs defined by the organisation,” said Rajendra Jagtap, chief managing director of PMPML.
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