Nagpur: The surprise inspection of Aapli Buses by Chairman of NMC’s Transport Committee Jitendra (Bunty) Kukde in which a number of passengers found travelling without ticket and subsequent suspension of two erring conductors is just an iceberg of massive irregularities. The mounting losses in running the city bus service could be attributed to the ‘theft’ by cunning bus conductors with the ‘blessing’ of Delhi Integrated Multi-Modal Transit System Ltd (DIMTS), which has been entrusted the job of operating the city bus service having four bus operators and two ticketing agencies.
“It is the responsibility of DIMTS to ensure that passengers do not commute without tickets apart from keeping a vigil on conductors. But the firm has failed to do its duty,” lamented the Chairman of Transport Committee Bunty Kukde, adding five additional flying squads of the NMC’s Transport Department officials have been formed to curb this illegal practice.
During the surprise check in city buses on many routes including Bhilgaon-Pardi, Pardi-Sitabuldi, Bharatwada-Sitabuldi and Pardi-Sitabuldi , Kukde had found that the two conductors — Pankaj Ghorpade and Ashish Dandekar – did not issue tickets to passengers and pocketed the money. The two conductors were suspended immediately and the passengers were given a dressing down for not insisting for tickets. On being asked, passengers informed Kukde that they had paid the ticket money to the conductors.
It is pertinent to recall that 35 conductors were suspended and police action initiated against them for committing cash card scam to the tune of over Rs 12 lakh.
But the action seems to be an iceberg. According to sources, most of the conductors with the ‘tacit understanding’ of DIMTS and other authorities are reportedly pilfering the NMC money to the tune of Rs 30 crore annually. Some conductors, on the condition of anonymity, revealed that a conductor pockets around Rs 600 per day and parts half of the amount with DIMTS ticket checkers. Currently, a fleet of 370 buses are running on city streets in two shifts. Accordingly, 740 conductors are deployed. Thus, the NMC is put to annual loss to the tune of Rs 30 crore by way of stealing ticketing money and other dubious means the conductors and authorities ‘invent’ and stay a step ahead. All these ticket money is being gobbled up despite NMC’s Transport Department is spending lakhs of rupees over vigilance squad. According to sources, NMC pays DIMTS Rs 5781 for vigilance staff of 10 for every 100 buses. But still the ticketing money theft continues and NMC losses mount.
The Aapli Bus is counting on huge losses on almost all routes. On many routes, buses haven’t been able to recover even the operation cost in the past months. The worrying facts and figures were revealed in the meeting of NMC’s Transport Committee the other day. Blame game erupted in the meeting with Committee Chairman Bunty Kukde and other members targeting and grilling Transport Manager Shivaji Jagtap and other officials for the mess. The issue of expenditure being higher than revenue from city bus service engulfed the meeting. The total amount of loss incurred from November 2016 to February 2018 was Rs 70.24 crore. As against the revenue of Rs 58.16 crore for the said period, the expenditure was a whopping Rs 136.60 crore. In 2017-18, the revenue from ticketing was Rs 19.05 crore from October to December 2017, and the expenditure during this period was Rs 31.14 crore. For the month of January 2018, ticketing revenue was Rs 6.57 crore and expenditure was Rs 8.70 crore.