The Pune Mahanagar Parivahan Mahamandal Limited (PMPML) has often been a soft target during bandhs and once again witnessed 27 buses from its fleet being damaged yesterday.
More than 350 buses have been damaged by protesters since 2007, which according to the officials has added up to a loss of over Rs 50 lakh.
This time around most of PMPML buses were damaged during the night. The buses were parked at PMC, Kothrud and other depots in the city, and the window panes of many vehicles were damaged with stones sometime between Wednesday night and yesterday morning.
“This time we observed a new trend. Generally, the police arrest workers of political parties involved in bandhs. But now the NCP and BJP are blaming each other,” said Deepaksingh Pardeshi, public relations officer, PMPML.
The damage to the window panes of the 27 buses is costing between Rs 10,000 and Rs 35,000 per bus and the total loss is approximately Rs 4.5 lakh.
“This is only the direct loss. Repair work takes a minimum of eight hours per bus. After property is damaged, we have to file a complaint at the police station and also show them the condition of the bus, which takes a long time. During the procedural work, many bus trips get cancelled, which adds to the losses,” Pardeshi said.
Due to lack of space at depots, many PMPML buses are parked on the roadside during the night, sans any security. Hence, they are becoming more vulnerable during bandhs.
“Publicity has become an important factor during any bandh. Damage to public transport gets wide publicity and this has now became a tool to evaluate the success of protests,” a PMPML official said.
Recovering the loss
A provision exists to recover losses from the political party or institution concerned.
The PMPML is required to submit a proposal to the District Collectorate in order to get compensation from the state government, but proposals submitted since 2007 are still pending, and PMPML has not yet received a single rupee.