The Maharashtra State Road Transport Corporation (MSRTC) suspended its deputy general manager Sarjerao Lubal on Saturday because of an alleged financial favour to a private firm regarding the Electronic Ticket Issue Machine (ETIM) project.
The ETIM project, headed by Lubal, began two years ago on a built operate transfer basis. This means that a private firm provided the electronic ticketing service to MSRTC at a certain cost per ticket.
"The DGM was suspended from services pending enquiry for financial and administrative impropriety favouring a private firm involved in the project and causing loss to the MSRTC. Based on Lubal's explanation and the documents we have, he seems to be guilty," said Deepak Kapoor, vice president and managing director, MSRTC. It is alleged that many irregularities were carried out breaching the MSRTC's policies without the knowledge of senior officials.
One of the two major allegations against Lubal are that he gave permission to the private firm to sell platform e-tickets at the Mumbai Central bus stand for Re 1 each.
"MSRTC is supposed to pay 21 paise per ticket to the private firm regardless of whether the ticket rate it is Re 1 or Rs 100. However, by giving permission for e-tickets, 21% of the income went to the private firm. The MSRTC was at a loss," said an MSRTC official on the condition of anonymity, as he was not authorised to speak to media.
The second allegation was that the group ticket limit was decreased from 10 to six people.
"Earlier, if there are nine members in a group, they were issued only one ticket. But the limit was later decreased to six, which increased MSRTC's costs to the private firm," added the official. He also added that ceasing this irregularity will take sometime because there needs to some changes in the software.
MSRTC has now asked Standardisation Testing and Quality Certification (STQC), a company allied to National Informatics Centre to do a system audit of the project.
"STQC will audit the project and it will take nearly two months to complete," said Kapoor.
It is speculated that this incident will lead to a reshuffle in the hierarchy of MSRTC. "There are many senior officials that are involved. Hopefully they will be punished soon," said the official.