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Commuter group, union blame change in officers™' post for BRTS failure

After PMPML officer Sunil Burse returned from a study tour in South America, he was made chief engineer instead of BRTS manager; commuter groups, union say this jinxed the operation

To make lives easier for Pune commuters, Pune Mahanagar Parivahan Mahamandal Limited (PMPML) experimented with the Bus Rapid Transit System (BRTS).

Bad decision: A commuter group, union believe that Burse's full-fledged involvement in the BRTS project could have taken it to a new level and saved it from the present mess. File pic
Bad decision: A commuter group, union believe that Burse's full-fledged involvement in the BRTS project could have taken it to a new level and saved it from the present mess. File pic 

In order to effectively implement this system, they also sent one of their representatives, Sunil Burse, for a weeklong study tour to Bogota in South America in 2007, where this system was introduced for the first time in the world. Three officials from Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) also accompanied Burse on the tour.

However, Burse's first-hand experience remained underutilised as he was made chief engineer after the BRTS project took off in the city in 2007. Another official, with an engineering background was given charge of the entire BRTS project.

City-based commuter groups and PMPML workers' union attribute the failure of the BRTS project on the Katraj Road and Hadapsar on the poor decision-making of the PMPML administration.

Before being promoted to chief engineer, Burse was the depot manager at Swargate and had specialised in automobile engineering.

He said, "I was instructed by my seniors to go for the study tour, which I did. When I returned, I submitted my report and when the BRTS pilot project was launched in the city, I regularly attended their meetings as an additional duty and contributed to it."

Ashok Jagtap, vice president of PMPML workers' union, said, "New BRTS routes are being outlined on Alandi Road and Nagar Road, but are not yet finalised and still needs improvement. Also the pilot project was a failure, as there were many accidents on the route."

"Why was Burse sent for the study tour if his expertise was not going to be fully utilised?" questioned Jagtap. He believes that Burse's full-fledged involvement could have taken the project to a new level and saved it from the present mess.

PMPML Paravasi Manch president Jugel Rathi said, "The decisions made by PMPML's top officials are made in such a way that it safeguards their own vested interests. Their corrupt practises have looted the organisation."

He added, "Also, they cannot just sent anyone for a study tour. Only the person who has knowledge in that particular field must be given the opportunity."

Since the PMPML has been formed in 2007, executive engineer, Anant Waghmare has been handing the entire BRTS operations.

On other hand, higher-ranking officials in the PMPML administration have stayed put with their respective posts. This violates the state government's standing orders, which makes it mandatory for positions to be transferred or shuffled after every three years.

A PMC senior official, on the condition of anonymity, told mid-day, "Three of our officials were also sent for this study tour to Bogota to know how the BRTS operates and how we can implement things here. We spent more than Rs 30 lakh on this tour."

16.5km
The stretch of the Katraj-Hadapsar BRTS route

268.5km
Total approved length for BRT corridors in the city

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