Left or right? Door debate rages on
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A year after the union government approved the purchase of buses for the Pune Mahanagar Parivahan Mahamandal Ltd (PMPML), the public transport utility and the Pune Municipal Corporation(PMC) continue to engage in controversy over purchase of buses, arguing over the issue of doors in the buses.
The union government had sanctioned funds to the two local civic bodies, PMC and the Pimpri-Chinchwad Municipal corporation (PCMC) under the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM) to purchase 550 buses for PMPML. The PMC had submitted a detailed project report (DPR) for the purchase of buses while committing to go for low-floor buses with doors on the left side of the bus. However, the PMPML opted for doors on both sides and floated tenders for the same without informing the civic body.
"We cannot violate the DPR by purchasing buses with doors on the right side," maintained PMC standing committee chairman Arvind Shinde while refusing to transfer the money to PMPML.
On the other hand, PMPML chairman and managing director Dilip Band insisted that buses with doors on both sides will meet the demand as the bus stops on Bus Rapid Transit System (BRTS) lane in PMC area is on the left side of the road while those in PCMC are on the right.
With no solution in sight, the state government tried to intervene and resolve the issue. It was decided to ask the Central Institute of Road Transport (CIRT) to study the technicalities of the buses to be purchased. The city unit of the BJP launched a protest against the delay in purchase of buses. "The civic body has received the funds but the purchase of buses was unneccessarily delayed," said BJP corporator Vikas Matkari, who had gone on an indefinite hunger strike.
Though he was given an assurance on speeding up the process of purchase of buses, the PMPML is yet to get new buses in its fleet. Meanwhile, the PMPML has dropped the plan of purchasing air-conditioned buses and would only go for non air-conditioned buses with low floors.