An illegal transport system in the Hinjewadi information technology (IT) park has emerged as a risky alternative for people living and working there.
Residents claim they often have to depend on private taxis because the frequency of Pune Mahanagar Parivahan Mahamandal Limited (PMPML) buses is poor.
The 25-year-old woman, who was kidnapped on Thursday and gang raped at Hinjewadi, got into the Tata Indica thinking it was one of these shared taxis. The three occupants of the car allegedly drove her around the city and raped her over eight hours. All three have been arrested.
A number of residential complexes have come up in Hinjewadi following the IT boom.
Most companies arrange for transport for their employees, but residents depend on public transport or private taxis.
Advocate Vaishali Sarin, a resident of Wakad, said Thursday’s incident has underlined the need for better public transport. “Women feel secure in public transport,” she said.
Residents complain that they have to often wait for more than 30 minutes for a bus if they want to go to Pune city. Madhuri Aphale, a resident of Thergaon, is forced to use a two-wheeler. “I can not think of using public or private transport. What do I do?” she asked.
Spokesperson of PMPML, Dilip Pardeshi, denied that the network in Hinjewadi was inefficient. He said the undertaking runs 100 buses—he claimed there is a bus every ten minutes--from Pune city to Hinjewadi
Pardeshi alleged that private vehicles offer lifts to passengers at bus stops to make a quick buck. “We have brought this to the notice of the police and they should act,” he said. Deputy Commissioner of Police, Mahesh Patil, said the police have not received any complaints from the undertaking. “The PMPML must increase its frequency considering the increasing population in the area,” Patil said. “One cannot expect people to wait for a bus for hours. People are bound to look for alternatives.”
Local youth have invested in vehicles, which they use as taxis. This is their best option after many of them lost their agricultural land to the IT park. Many work as drivers. Two of the accused in Thursday’s case were cab drivers while the main used his car to ferry passengers.