The Pune Municipal Corpora-tion (PMC) has once again disappointed residents, this time by not making a provision in its budget for the addition of new buses on city roads.
Going by the budget, no new buses will be joining the fleet of the Pune Mahanagar Parivahan Mahamandal Ltd (PMPML), despite the need for at least 971 additional buses in the city.
Before the recently conducted PMC election, the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) had placed top priority on the need to increase the number of PMPML buses.
“The ruling party is making a fool of people in every year’s budget,” Vivek Velankar, president of Sajag Nagrik Manch, said. “They are not actually concerned about public transport. Last year’s provision for new PMPML buses is still not fulfilled. Considering the increasing number of commuters, we are demanding Rs 150 crore to be set aside in the budget for PMPML.’
The PMC had made provision for buying 500 buses in last year’s budget, to be introduced on a step-by-step basis. So far only 279 buses have arrived and 221 are awaited.
Jugal Rathi, president of PMP Pravasi Manch, said under the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM), in 2008 650 buses were to be inducted till 2009.
Till now, only 279 buses have been inducted for the city and 150 for Pimpri-Chinchwad. “No budgetary provision was made, though political parties have always emphasised the need to have more buses for the city. Sadly, it was not reflected when it came to making budgetary provisions.” Rathi said.
In the next two days, representatives of PMP Pravasi Manch and Sajag Nagrik Manch and other activists will be meeting PMC officials to demand a separate budgetary provision for the purpose.
“Passengers are facing problems every day and the limited number of buses is the core issue. For several years we have been demanding the number of buses be increased. There is no budgetary provision for the improvement of bus services.” Rathi said.
PRO of PMPML, Deepaksingh Pardeshi said 221 buses would arrive soon. “The remaining 221 buses will be inducted in two months. This process has dragged on for the past year because PMC has not allotted us funds, besides the payment of recently purchased new buses is still due. We held many meetings with PMC officials and are hopeful that the buses will be introduced as early as possible,” Pardeshi said.
Mayor Vaishali Bankar said that whenever the necessity for funds would arise, the PMC would make an allotment. “Currently, PMPML is supported by JNNURM with the fund of Rs 500 crore. So the allotment has not been made in Monday’s draft budget,” she said.
According to the Central Institute of Road Transport (CIRT), a minimum of 55 buses are needed per lakh population. Considering the 33 lakh population of the city, it should have 1,815 buses. Pimpri-Chinchwad, which is also catered to by the PMPML, needs 825 buses, taking the total number of buses PMPML requires to 2,640. According to the latest PMPML figures, currently the city has 1,697 buses, of which only about 1,200 are actually on the roads.