With 41 fatal accidents recorded in the past year and a half involving Pune Mahanagar Parivahan Mahamandal Limited (PMPML) bus drivers, it seems the transport body is more interested in shielding its drivers than ensuring justice.
Data accessed by activist Jugal Rathi shows that so far only five drivers have been dismissed from their job, and the remainingwere reinstated after brief suspension, ranging from 10 to 60 days.
Shockingly, the information points out that two of the drivers who have more than 10 accidents registered against their names were only denied annual appraisals as punishment.
Moreover, PMPML administration has candidly admitted that this data includes fatal accidents involving buses rented on contract. And 20 of these mishaps involved contractual buses.
After the accident involving a PMPML bus on Sunday morning in which five people were seriously injured, MiD DAY tried to find out what action the transport body takes against drivers responsible for such mishaps. However, the information received by Rathi through Right To Information (RTI) on fatal accidents from April 2012 to November 2013 involving PMPML buses is an eye-opener (MiD DAY has a copy).
“Most of the drivers who were responsible for fatal accidents were repeat offenders. Moreover, after the accident, the drivers were allowed to resume duty after merely ten- day or two-month suspension. And on top of that, the punishment given to most of them was cancelling their annual increment,” said Rathi.
“On other hand, the PMPML administration does not have any previous data of the contract bus drivers or what action has been taken on them by their owners.” he added.
“There is no sensitivity amongst PMPML officials and extreme negligence is seen in their inquiry procedure. We demand that an expert, impartial and time-bound inquiry of each fatal accident be conducted.
Strict action should be initiated against the drivers, and details of the accident and action taken by PMPML must be published every quarter. Most importantly, criminal cases must be filed in these fatal accidents,” said Rathi.
PMPML driver arrested
A day after five people was injured after a PMPML bus hit them on Sunday morning at a traffic signal on Laxmi Road, the police took the driver into custody. He was later presented in court and has been remanded to 14-day judicial custody. Meanwhile, the PMPML accident department has also started investigating the cause of the mishap and will submit a report to the administration soon.
When MiD DAY spoke to PMPML spokesperson Deepak Pardeshi about the issue, he said, “In most of the cases, the drivers are not at fault and the fatal accident takes place due to mistake of that person. The drivers are well familiar with the routes and they know how to drive along the way. In the case of contract buses, we immediately send a letter to the contractor asking them to provide details of the accident and order them not to keep that driver on duty again. From our side, we always investigate about the accident fairly, but if it’s not the fault of driver we should accept it.” When asked why strict action is not taken against the drivers, Pardeshi said, “The most extreme action we take is to dismiss driver from duty. But in most of the cases these drivers approach the labour court and manage to secure orders for rejoining. So, in such instances, we have to take them back on duty and continue paying them their salaries.”