One-way ticket to controversy
DECCAN CHRONICLE | K V Navya
Chennai: Employees alleged to be backed by senior officials, who indulged in similar cheating cases previously, either retired without refunding the amount or joined back MTC within months after repaying the cash, whereas conductors caught with a deficit amount, as negligible as Rs 40 were removed after enquiry.
Informed sources from MTC said at least 15 conductors have been removed on these grounds this year.
Last year, at Tambaram bus depot, two employees in Monthly Season Ticket (MST) ticket counters employed on compassionate grounds would show account for only half of the passes they sold and when a ticket inspector caught a passenger with a pass that was not registered, the whole forgery unveiled amounting up to Rs 19 lakh.
Similar incident occurred in 2004 at Vadapalani bus depot when the ticket section clerk pocketed about Rs 2 lakh by selling passes which cost Rs 600 then.
MTC insiders said, while the clerk at Vadapalani retired without refunding the amount, Tambaram employees refunded it and joined MTC in no time.
When contacted, an official from MTC said, "In Tambaram case, officials were suspended temporarily after they refunded the amount. In the recent case, four of them are removed because they were arrested."
But, conductors rue that they are not treated similarly. "A conductor can have a maximum of Rs 100 personal money for which he has to get a sign from authority before the trip starts. At times, when they board the bus in hurry without signature and the ticket collector catches them, they are suspended. Recently, one worker was removed permanently for having Rs 40 extra. If the officials can pay back and join the department, why can’t conductors do the same?" questioned K. Anbazhagan, joint secretary, Nethaji Transport Union.
He further added that Mohana from Vallalar Nagar, the person responsible for writing name and address on the passes was suspended for 103 days and increment was cut for not doing her work properly, whereas, "bigger" culprits are continuing to deepen pockets.
Sources said numerous higher officials are involved in the issue, the reason for the easy escape. Moreover, they also allege that the recent forgery case would not have been possible without getting monograms from higher officials.
Call to reopen govt press
About 200 duplicate passes are printed each month and forgery cases have become common after the printing press at KK Nagar was closed in 2010 and the tender was leased out to a private press, sources from MTC said.
In the recent case, the accused had bought a high-end Xerox machine worth `2.5 lakh and made colour copies of the Travel As You Please Ticket (TAYPT) tickets from a rented place in Adambakkam.
This would not have been possible if the press was under the control of government as emblems and monograms would be protected, sources said.
"None of us know the location of the private press, so we do not know what happens there, whereas, if the operations are carried out in the government press, authenticity can be maintained," a source said.
Officials from MTC said they would consider re-opening the press due to burgeoning number of forgery cases.