Pune News: PMPML Electric Buses Under Scrutiny: Calls For Transparency and Stern Action On Maintenance

Pune News: PMPML Electric Buses Under Scrutiny: Calls For Transparency and Stern Action On Maintenance

Pune News: PMPML Electric Buses Under Scrutiny: Calls For Transparency and Stern Action On Maintenance

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These incidents have raised serious questions about the adequacy of maintenance and safety protocols surrounding the electric bus fleet. 

11 May 2024

By Payoshi Bisht 

In recent weeks, residents of Pune have voiced growing concerns over the safety and reliability of the Pune Mahanagar Parivahan Mahamandal Limited (PMPML) electric buses, citing incidents of battery overheating, dysfunctionality and in some cases, explosions. Reports from multiple sources indicate that several electric buses operated by PMPML have experienced battery-related malfunctions, leading to overheating and, in extreme cases, explosions. 

Sanjay Shitole, an activist from Pune stated that, “Electrical vehicles are facing significant battery issues, especially in smaller scooters where explosions have been recorded in viral videos. Maintenance is absolutely crucial, but unfortunately, it seems that PMPML buses aren’t being monitored. As citizens, we have invested heavily in these buses, particularly those from the Chinese-made Onatwa brand, but there are concerns about their reliability. Many instances suggest batteries aren’t fully charged or there are technical issues. The low fleet of buses can be the problem as Pune receives rainfall and it can impact their performance due to the placement of batteries in the lower part of the bus. The ARI and CIRT have granted permissions favouring Chinese companies, which raises serious questions.” 

Despite these assurances, citizens remain sceptical about the safety of electric buses and are calling for greater transparency and accountability from PMPML authorities. 

Jugal Rathi, the president of the PMP Pravasi Manch expressed his discontent by stating that, “PMPML’s responsibility is being neglected, with management showing little regard for the safety of travellers. They assert that these actions amount to culpable homicide with malicious intent, implicating those responsible as culprits.”

Satish Gate, a PMPML spokesperson, in reply to the allegations, explained that, “We operate vendor buses under a specific arrangement where they are responsible for maintenance and operations. These vendors provide buses and drivers, and we compensate them based on kilometres travelled. Our role is limited to this arrangement. The preference for AC buses during summers leads to overcrowding, but ultimately, the responsibility for bus maintenance and service falls on the vendors, not us.” 

Many are demanding a thorough investigation into the root causes of the battery failures and a comprehensive plan to ensure the safety of passengers and bystanders.