While the Pune Mahanagar Parivahan Mahamandal Limited, which runs buses in the Pune as well as in Pimpri Chinchwad, is fighting for space to keep its own buses, it is plagued by the 'encroachment' of another kind -- that of vehicles dumped in its space. These vehicles were brought by the authorities and are standing there in spite of many protests. Devidas Deshpande reports/'
The traffic police and Regional Transport Office of Pune and Pimpri Chinchwad started taking actions against the illegal traffic in 2006, and since then have seized a number of vehicles which have been dumped on the PMPML's sites, a move protested by the company.
These depots are located at Kothrud, Hadapsar, Swargate, Narveer Tanaji Wadi, Nigdi, Sadgurunagar, CNG Depot, Katraj, Marketyard and Pune station depots.
The joint managing director of the PMPML has written more than 10 letters in the last six years in this regard to RTO and traffic police. However, no action has been taken. The vehicles were to be kept till all the documents are verified.
Each day, about 10 vehicles are seized and brought to these depots and the same number of vehicles is released after verification of the documents. However, the number of vehicles standing on the depots for years has reached 700.
The scarcity of the space could be judged from the fact that Parshant Jagtap, director of the PMPML, has demanded that the maintenance of the PMPML buses should be entrusted to only those companies which can give their own land for this purpose.
In addition, he demanded, "The additional spaces marked for the PMPML should be given immediately by PMC."
While the traffic police do not have their own space to keep the vehicles, the RTO has overstuffed their available space. In the two premises that the RTO have in the city, the Sangam office has 36 four-wheelers and Alandi Road office has 20 four-wheelers which include cars, tempo, taxis, travel buses and trucks.
These vehicles were seized for not paying the taxes. Since the fine levied on these vehicles was more than their prices, their owners chose to abandon them.
Last month, Sanjay Dhaigude, deputy regional transport officer, had announced that those vehicles would be auctioned off. "The notices of the auction have been sent to the owners. If we do not get replies to these notices, they will be aunctioned," he had said. However, the process is yet to take off.
The PMPML is already plagued by the space crunch. It has a fleet of 1,758 buses out of which only 50 can be parked in a depot at a time. Other buses are standing on the road in the night. In addition, the Pune Municipal Corporation plans to add 500 more buses to its fleet.
Some old buses, which have to be scrapped, also stand there eating up additional space. Since a lot of buses are parked on public roads, they are damaged or their parts are stolen. A number of incidents of stealing buses or bus parts have been registered in the past.
This trend has also created security problems.
"There have been frequent complaints of auto union functionaries coming to depots and threatening the PMPML personnel. There are four cases of stealing vehicles from the depots," said N S Bhosale, senior police inspector, Nigdi police station.