WITH PMPML chief Nayana Gunde’s transfer on Thursday, the Maharashtra government has maintained its ‘tradition’ of suddenly and unceremoniously removing officials who head the beleaguered transport body. Gunde, who assumed charge in February 2018 after the short but controversial term of Tukaram Mundhe, served for less than two years.
In fact, in the transport body’s 13 years of existence, only one chairman and managing director (CMD), R N Joshi, could complete the full term of three years.
The transport body has had 16 CMDs in the last 13 years, with some of them in the post for only six days, while others held on to it for a few months and in some cases, a couple of years. Gunde’s successor Vijay Suryavanshi, appointed on Thursday, is the 16th CMD of the transport body.
Only four CMDs lasted for over a year, and eight held the important post as an additional charge.
PMPML was formed in 2007 as a company incorporated under the Companies Act, 1956, by merging Pune Municipal Transport (PMT), which was formed in 1950, and Pimpri Chinchwad Municipal Transport (PCMT), formed in 1974. The post of the CMD, who has to be an IAS officer, was created to head the organisation. The first CMD of PMPML was Subbarao Patil, whose tenure lasted for 15 months.
Former PCMC Commissioner Shrikar Pardeshi, who was given additional charge of PMPML in December 2014, proved to be a very popular CMD as he took measures that were praised by both the transport body’s staffers and commuters. His term, however, lasted for only four months as Pardeshi was transferred to the Prime Ministers’ Office in New Delhi. His successors, Omprakash Bakoriya and Kunal Kumar, also held the post as additional charge, before Abhishek Krishna was appointed as a full-time CMD in June 2015.
In barely a month, Krishna was transferred to Nashik as the city’s municipal commissioner. Tukaram Mundhe was appointed the next full-time CMD in March 2017. While he streamlined PMPML’s operations and took strict action against those violating discipline, his alleged high-handed attitude cost him the post. He was transferred even before he could complete a year, after PMPML staffers and local politicians complained against him. He was replaced by Gunde in February 2018.
City activists lament that sudden transfers have become quite a tradition at the PMPML and the lack of a sustained vision has hampered its functioning.
Activist Jugal Rathi said, “Everyone agrees that the most serious issue in Pune and Pimpri-Chinchwad is the broken public transport system and resultant heavy traffic. This issue must get top priority but it is often ignored. We have been pushing the PMPML administration to implement a four-point programme to make the transport services safe, efficient, affordable and reliable. But either there has been no effort in that direction or those who want to take these initiatives are transferred out”.
Rathi said that among the 15 CMDs who have served so far, only two or three had shown real commitment towards improving the transport body, but the state government didn’t let them complete their tenures.