Even 15 months after driver Santosh Mane wreaked havoc on the city’s streets, Swargate bus depot remains less than safe. The 7-acre premises with the bus stand and the depot still lack basic security measures like adequate number of CCTV cameras and enough security guards to monitor suspicious movements and incidents.
Mane, who has been awarded the death penalty, was working at Swargate depot. The questions regarding security have been put forth by citizens as the killer driver used a master key to start the bus.
Speaking on the issue, Vijay Divte, manager, Swargate state transport bus stand, said, “We are handing out common keys instead of allowing the use of master key, and have also taken precautionary measures to ensure that no outsider can start a bus. Six cameras have been installed with locally-sponsored initiatives.
In addition, 13 security guards have been stationed, compared to the four previously. Both the entry and out gates were expanded by 20 feet, and we ensure verification of the log sheets of every bus. It is difficult to check all the 1,800 incoming and outgoing buses. So far, we were unable to stop encroachments by auto rickshaws and unofficial parking inside the depot.”
“Mane’s brutal act has put a blot on the history of state transport of the last 65 years, which will take another 65 years to clean up. This is exceptional and we can’t comment on the verdict given by the Pune District & Sessions Court,” he added.
Ashok Jadhav, divisional controller, MSRTC, said, “We are waiting for the written version of the court verdict and will then form a decision on terminating Mane from service. We can’t make any comment on the judgment.”
Work in progress
>> Five ST buses have put on battery-cut-off switches and passengers can push them to stop the vehicle
>> Instead of master key, common keys have been assigned to drivers
>> A counsellor has been appointed for stress management
>> Improving resting conditions for drivers at Swargate
>> Installing CCTV cameras and GPRS on 30 to 40 per cent Volvo and semi-private buses
10 Number of years that Mane was working at Swargate ST depot
On the morning of January 25, 2012, Mane hijacked the ST bus (MH14/BT 1532) from Swargate depot and went on a rampage killing people besides damaging over 25 vehicles. Police and citizens managed to stop the bus near Neelayam theatre bridge after a hot pursuit lasting 45 minutes on 15 km stretch.