The Maharashta State Road Transport Corporation (MSRTC) bus stands in the city remain as vulnerable as they were before the Santosh Mane incident in January and the serial blasts in August.
This when a Diwali rush of five lakh people expected at bus stands in the city between November 9 and November 12.
Commuters are pointing out lack of adequate security measures at Shivajinagar, Swargate, Pune railway station and Pimpri-Chinchwad. What is shocking, say commuter organisations, is that instead of additional security arrangements in place to deal with the rush, security measures taken up post the January 25 Mane incident and the August 1 serial blasts have disappeared.
On Wednesday, Newsline visited some bus stands to discover that watchmen deployed by MSRTC administration at the termini have stopped reporting long ago. There are no barricades at the entry and exit points. Although transport body officials said there were strict instructions that no bus bus be left unmanned in the station area, several buses at Swargate and Shivajinagar had neither conductor nor driver in or near them.
On January 25, driver Santosh Mane operating from Swargate station had driven away an empty bus and ploughed it through vehicles and people killing eight of them. After this the MSRTC had come up with several security measures most of which are not visible now.
At Shivajinagar station which has three entry points no security personnel was spotted. There was no baggage scanning facility or barricades at the gates. Unauthorised vehicles entered the bus stand unhindered though entry of private vehicles was banned post January 25.
Swargate station, from where Mane had begun his rampage, has four entry points and none of them is guarded. vendors have set up stalls at Shankarshet exit and Satara Road entry. Unauthorised vehicles are lined on both sides of the entry-exit roads narrowing down the operational area. The recently set up vigilance tower at the station was unmanned.
Vijaykumar Diwate, depot manager, Swargate said that the eight watchmen are officially deployed at the station are irregular in reporting for duty and the MSRTC can’t do anything about it as they are on employed on contract.
“It’s also true that rickshaws are unauthorisedly parked on the entry and exit roads. We have approached police on several occasions. There is also a proposal to have a boom barrier that opens automatically and closes at the main entrance. But it does not seem practical because 2.5 buses pass every minute,” said Diwate. He said the vigilance tower was set up by the MSRTC but it was the responsibility of the police to deploy personnel which, he said, is not being done.
He said five divisional traffic officers and 25 supervisors will be deployed at the station between November 9 and November 12 to monitor passenger traffic. Ashok Jadhav, divisional controller, was not available for comment.