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Thursday, July 29, 2010

Edition 26: Rs 100 Crore Question

Will the hands of the clock turned backwards? This is the question to be discussed by the corporators as proposal to divide PMPML crops up. With the proposal comes a surprise that the civic transport body had defaulted on Rs 100 Crore as passenger tax and other charges.


Devidas Deshpande

Dilip Band, divisional commissioner of Pune and chairman of Pune Mahanagar Parivahan Mahamandal Limited (PMPML) said on Friday that the fare hike in PMPML buses is imminent and the company is unable to bear the expenses it currently accrues. While this may be true for most part, but the corporators in Pune Municipal Corporation have just put their fingers on this point. That the company has not performed up to the mark.



The PMC General Body is contemplating on the re-separation of PMPML into two companies. Barely three years into its existence, the company has, according to coporators, failed to provide adequate services to the commuters. As also, it has run into bad economic with large payment arrears. Most importantly, it has failed to pay Rs 100 Crores as Commuter Tax and Welfare Tax to the government. The discussion on the subject is scheduled on June 17. Corporators Ujjwal Keskar and Babu Vagaskar have tabled the proposal.



PMPML came into existence by a government order dated April 19, 2007. Before that, the city of Pune had Pune Municipal Transport (PMT) while the Pimpri Chinchwad had Pimpri Chinchwad Municipal Transport (PCMT). Both the establishments were under control of respective municipal corporations resulting in the delay for decision making. In view of these conditions, PMC and PCMC passed proposals for the merger of the two companies resulting in the formation of PMPML. When the company was created, it was expected that it will be able to cater to public more efficiently, removing the geographical glitches. However, it did not come out like that.



According to corporators, it has failed to purchase sufficient number of buses in last three years. Even after merging two companies, the deficit is mounting high. To elbow this deficit out, both the municipal corporations are providing subsidies in accordance with a government resolution. The new company has not even formulated the structure of new employees. All the employees are working according to their old posts.



Defaulting On Employees

The most serious complaint about the company is that it has failed to pay the salaries of employees. The retired employees have not received their gratuity for last two years. This has placed a huge burden on the company. After PMPML was formed, no employee has received promotion and other incentives. This has not only created discontent among the employees, it has also eroded the performance of the company. Many employees are retiring without getting promotion or increment affecting their financial future.



If you are not shocked reading this, now be ready. The government stipulates to pay commuters and child welfare taxes by local bodies. The PMPML has not paid a single paisa since the creation of the company. The defaults on that head have crossed to over Rs 100 Crores. PMT and PCMT being undertakings of civic bodies were exempted from various taxes. However, PMPML is a company which means that it has to pay corporate taxes. With company already reeling under severe financial restrictions, it is unable to pay the same.



On the administration front, the company has not got a single working head. Since 2007, it has seen 7 chairmen and managing directors. The government simply could not manage to appoint a full time head for the company. Band is managing the company since last year but has run into rough weather this year over the purchase of buses issue. He is also given the additional charge and is unable to look full time into it.



The Union Protest

In the PMT, only INTUC was the approved trade union. After PMT and PCMT were merged, there was no official trade union. However, the new company PMPML started to deduct the union membership fee from the worker's salary. Even some amount was deducted from the bonus and incentives.



The fact was brought to light last year by corporator Shrikant Patil, who is also president of the Rashtravadi Maharashtra General Labour Union's PMPML wing. According to him, the PMPML has 6,600 employees now. After PMT was dissolved, the agreement with INTUC also came to end. Still, the company deducted the money from employees.


Quotes


The fare hike issue was discussed in the previous meeting of board of directors of PMPML and soon a decision will be taken. The PMPML expenses have gone up. He added that around 400 daily wage employees were inducted in the PMPML and administrative expenses have also increased. This needs to be reflected in the main revenue source of PMPML that is the bus fare.



 Dilip Band, Managing Director, PMPML, on proposed hike for tickets





The thought of PMPML fare hike is confession of incapacity and inefficiency of PMPML board of directors and administration. We strongly condemn the move. After the two companies merged, government failed to appoint a full time officer to head the body. PCMC later denied to give money which the company owed to it. It just shows how everybody has taken the public for a ride.



– Jugal Rathi, President, PMPML Pravasi Manch





The PMPML has shown no signs of improvement or enhancement in performance after its inception and merger of two erstwhile companies. The director board of the company has reversed its own decisions four times in a year. This type of non-performing director board should be dissolved and a probe of Band’s decisions should be carried out through a retired justice.

- Ujjwal Keskar, Corporator, PMC





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