A day after the Pune Mahanagar Parivahan Mahamandal Limited (PMPML) announced that they would procure 1,100 new buses, commuter groups have slammed the transport body’s decision. Activists from PMP Pravasi Sangh termed PMPML’s board of directors’ decision as suicidal, stating that the transport body is already cash-strapped and lacks operational planning, and the latest move might sound the death knell for the transport body.
Jugal Rathi, convener of the PMP Pravasi Sangh, said, “The move is suicidal because buses should not be procured on a rental basis. The Pune and Pimpri-Chinchwad municipal corporations, the zilla parishad, cantonment board and the state government should raise the funds needed to purchase the buses.
Even if state government allocates two per cent of the municipal corporations’ budget, PMPML can raise around Rs 120 crore. This can be utilised to purchase about 500 buses.”
PMPML on Saturday had announced that that they will procure 500 buses on a hire-purchase model and the remaining 600 buses on rental basis. Buses taken on rental basis will run on Compressed Natural Gas (CNG). The board had also approved the proposal of appointing a consultant to procure the buses and to oversee the extension of contracts of the current bus supplier.
The commuter group also said that PMPML has failed in proper maintenance and optimum utilisation of the current fleet. “PMPML bus operations lack proper planning. Private operators running buses had recently gone on a strike due to non-payment of their dues. If PMPML cannot pay the operators for 200 buses, how will they manage 600 more buses on rent?” questioned Rathi.
Meanwhile, PMPML Joint Managing Director Praveen Ashtikar said, “Procurement of new buses on rental basis will result in an additional burden of Rs 70 crore. The proposal of funding by approving two per cent of the municipal corporation’s budget is pending with the state government. We have followed up with them twice in this regard and the now the matter is pending with the chief minister. If this proposal is approved within a year, only then can we purchase new buses.”
“We have also asked the municipal corporations for viability gap funding. The corporations should give us Rs 5 crore for the students passes and other dues,” Ashtikar said.