They say in Kolkata the government dare not increase the fare by even 25 paise, because the protesting Kolkattans will torch property worth Rs 25 crore. Pune, it seems, is following the same pattern for the last few years- no matter what the agitators' cause is, they go and vandalise their own public transport buses.
As many as 481 buses have been damaged in various agitations and protests since 2010, which caused losses of Rs 1.75 crore to the Pune Mahanagr Parivahan Mahamandal Limited. What is interesting is that despite the government's assurances and a Supreme Court judgment to that effect, no political party responsible for the damages has been forced to pay the compensation. PMPML officials also point that neither the state nor the central government has come to the rescue of the ailing transport body, offering any compensation.
According to PMPML officials, it takes at least a week to restore the damaged buses and put them back in services, which eventually results in inconvenience to lakhs of commuters. PMPML has been so far fortunate in that none of its personnel were majorly injured in the protests. "Over the period of last four years the total loss incurred by PMPML was over Rs 1.75 crores. Under the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM), the central government should bear 50 percent costs, local bodies should bear 30 percent while the state should shoulder responsibility of 20 percent. However, we have not received any compensation in the last four years and we are left to bear the maintenance cost," said the PMPML spokesperson Deepak Pardeshi.
A vandalised bus takes a minimum of seven to ten days to get the bus back on the road. Chief engineer Sunil Burse said,"During any agitation, public target the front and rear windshields of the bus. Under the safety code, all the 1,300 buses have laminated glass and the cost of front windshield is between Rs 12000 to Rs 40000. It takes over a week since we need to order the special glass from either Bengaluru or Delhi."
City based activist lamented that both the political parties and PMPML are responsible due to which a large section of citizens have to bear the brunt when the buses are off the road. The President of PMP Pravasi Manch, Jugal Rathi said,"PMPML is the only means of transport for a large section of citizens and the miscreants target these buses. The political parties giving a call for the bandh should pay the compensation and they should also prevail on the miscreant for damaging the public transport buses."
President of Sajag Nagrik Manch (SNM) Vivek Velankar said,"Whenever the buses are damaged, the estimates and claims evaluation of loss has to be done by the Public Uytility and it needs to be submitted to the district collector for review and necessary action. However, the PMPML does not lodge any complaint for compensation with the district collector. As a result, PMPML doesn't get any compensation."
Pardeshi refuted the claim and pointed that they had given a detailed list to the collector but there had been no response.
Year and loss of the property
2014 (till may)/218/Rs 95,80,269
Total loss: 1,75,53,329