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Within a day of the change of guard at the top, the Pune Mahanagar Parivahan Mahamandal Limited (PMPML), the city’s transport body, on Wednesday began undoing the legacy of previous Chairman and Managing Director (CMD) Tukaram Mundhe. The board of directors of the PMPML on Wednesday decided to withdraw the hike in the daily pass rates for senior citizens that was announced a few months ago. It also passed a resolution to take back the over 160 employees who had been sacked by Mundhe on disciplinary grounds. The decision came on a day it became known that one of those, 42-year-old Tukaram Nivrutti Mundkar, had committed suicide. Police said Mundkar, who was attached to the Market Yard bus depot of the PMPML and was sacked about a month ago for “irregular attendance”, hanged himself at his house on Tuesday night.
New CMD of the PMPML, Naina Gunde, who took over the duties on Tuesday, said a final decision on the fate of the sacked employees — 158 of them were dismissed at one go — would be taken after hearing them. She said she would also look into the case of chief engineer Sunil Burse who was sacked by Mundhe for failing to meet targets. “If he appeals, I will look into it,” Gunde said about Burse.
Mundhe, an IAS officer of the 2005 batch, was transferred to a new position in Nashik last week after spending just 10 months at the PMPML. Several of his decisions during the short tenure, including the one to increase the fare of daily passes for senior citizens, had become contentious.
The PCMC Standing Committee Chairperson, Seema Savale, a director on the PMPML board, said she, along with Pune Mayor Mukta Tilak and PMC Standing Committee Chairman Murlidhar Mohol, had put forward the proposal to withdraw the fare hike and a resolution to this effect was passed unanimously. Savale said the decision to hike fares for senior citizens was objectionable.
“Instead of reaching out to senior citizens and making their travel affordable and comfortable, the PMPML meted out injustice to them during Mundhe’s tenure. There was no reason whatsoever to hike fares pertaining to elderly commuters,” she said. Savale claimed that proper procedure was not followed by Mundhe in dismissing employees on disciplinary grounds. “Natural principle of justice was followed in case of employees who were not suspended or sacked. The action was taken arbitrarily and indiscriminately,” she added.
“No show-cause notices were issued and no departmental probes were conducted. Some of the employees were sent messages on WhatsApp informing them about the action taken against them,” she said, adding that one of the employees was suspended even as he was undergoing a heart surgery. “He was told that he will have to get a medical certificate only from a government hospital like Sassoon,” she said.
Welcoming the PMPML decision to roll back the fare hike, Jugal Rathi, the convenor of the PMPML, Pravasi Manch, however, said the decision was half-hearted. “The Mundhe regime had done injustice to all commuters, including students. His decision to increase fares across the board had adversely affected the PMPML as commuter count had gone down because of it,” he said. Rathi said the “punching pass” rates were hiked as much 56 per cent. “They went up from Rs 450 to Rs 700. These passes were issued for daily travel where each commuter pays for 22 days of the month,” he added.
The common passes used by commuters of all ages had also gone up from Rs 1,200 to Rs 1,400. “even students were not spared. Their pass rate went up from Rs 600 to Rs 750,” he said. The PMPML administration said the final decision regarding the roll back of the fare hike of senior citizens passes will be taken in the next meeting scheduled for later this month.