How PMPML drove on the long route to bankruptcy

Published on Feb 14, 2022 08:18 PM IST

15 years since inception and PMPML’s losses are growing every year, with Pune and Pimpri-Chinchwad municipal corporations pouring in the money

15 years since inception and PMPML’s losses are growing every year, with Pune and Pimpri-Chinchwad municipal corporations pouring in the money. (HT FILE )
15 years since inception and PMPML’s losses are growing every year, with Pune and Pimpri-Chinchwad municipal corporations pouring in the money. (HT FILE )
ByAbhay Khairnar

PUNE One of the reasons for the creation of the Pune Mahanagar Parivahan Mahamandal Limited (PMPML), formed by merging the PMT and PCMT transport bodies in 2007, was to make a single public transport body financially efficient and operable.

However, 15 years since inception and PMPML’s losses are growing every year, with Pune and Pimpri-Chinchwad municipal corporations pouring in the money.

The operational losses for PMPML due to what many call “wrong policies”, have reached 220 crore in 2020-2021, from 152 crore five years ago.

The Covid pandemic has further hit the financial status of the PMPML amid falling passenger footfall during and post lockdowns.

According to Prakash Dhore, PMPML director, the PMPML is dominated by its administration, who are “not answerable” to elected representatives.

“Earlier, it was better as elected members used to raise questions in the general body. Now they (PMPML admin) are not answerable for anything. I staged an agitation in front of the PMPML administration recently, but to no avail.”

Officials said passenger footfall has gone down by 50 per cent and the organisation is trying to cope with providing new bus routes and facilities to passengers to cover their debts.

To reduce the expenses, the transport body has cut down its daily fleet of buses from 1,500 to 1,300. There has been drop in the daily passenger ridership from the earlier 850,000 to 600,000 and also revenue has gone down from Rs1.5 crore to a current Rs1 crore.

According to PMP Pravasi Manch’s president Jugal Rathi, by introducing AC buses and long-distance services, the transport body is intentionally taking “suicidal steps”. “No one is willing to reform the organisation even if it is city’s lifeline. It is accepted that public transport will never be profitable, but administration is taking decisions that are causing mounting losses which will take the transport body down forever.”

PMPML was formed in October 2007 and became a single entity for public transport with an IAS officer being nominated as chairman and managing director. The intention of registering the PMPML under the Company Act was to bring professionalism and keep it away from political interferance.

Activists, however, said it was decided that for first few years PMC and PCMC would support the company and later it would not need any help from either corporation. Now the condition of the PMPML is critical.

Civic activist Vivek Velenkar said, “IAS officers tried to improve the transport body, but all political parties are united to not bring a good officer to the PMPML, while those heading the body have a mindset of considering it a side posting.”

According to Velankar, PMPML’s decision to run the long-distance bus service in adjoining villages is a wrong policy.

According to officials, in December 2021 daily income wasRs1.5 crore, which then came down to 1 crore in January. Average daily income was around 1.3 crore, pre Covid.

“Once school and colleges start with full operations, and Covid cases go down then only the transport body will gain some financial profit,” said an official on condition of anonymity.

Bharatiya Janata Party’s Ujwal Keskar said, “I am the only elected member who objected to the forming of the separate company.Now the results are in front of people. I have demanded in the past many times to dissolve the body and bring this company under the umbrella of PMC general body.”

According to NCP leader Vishal Tambe who was former standing committee chairman, the PMPML’s operational losses are huge and one day they will reach Rs1,000 crore. “The PMC budget is Rs6,000 crore, when it is getting Rs4,000 as revenue. PMC also needs to pay salaries and for other development works. If the losses continues, it is beyond the capacity of the PMC to offer any financial help to PMPML.”

Tambe also criticised the PMPML policy to run long- distance bus service. “It is a wrong policy to run the long-distance buses. PMPML buses are going to Lonavla, Daund and everywhere in the district. Why should the tax payers from PMC bear these additional costs?”

Aam Aadmi Party’s state co-ordinator Vijay Kumbhar said, “It is a misconception that once an IAS officer gets appointed, the working atmosphere will improve. It is proved that IAS officers cannot make changes in the PMPML’s functioning. Now government should appoint an expert in that field as chairman.”

PMPML losses

2015-16 - Rs152 crore

2016-17 - Rs210 crore

2017-18 - Rs91.96 crore

2019-20 - Rs189 crore

2020-21 - Rs220 crore

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