Known as a "prominent and honest" officer among employees of the Bangalore Metropolitan Transport Corporation (BMTC), Ganganna Gowda, who was the chief mechanical engineer, was suspended pending enquiry three hours before he retired.
On February 28, 60-year-old Ganganna was suspended (reported by TOI) and now he is running from pillar to post to prove he is innocent and get his retirement benefits. Upon suspension, an employeeâ€™s benefits are withheld until an inquiry is conducted. The inquiry is to be completed in six months and if found guilty, the employee is asked to pay penalties.
Gowda, who began his service in BMTC as an Assistant Manager in 1974, was promoted five times during his tenure with the transport body and had a clean record. Employees with the BMTC say that he is an honest and prominent officer. However, he is believed to have had disagreements with his superiors as he disagreed with the transport body authorities'decision to purchase the electric buses as opposed to leasing them out.
"We had received an NGT order to reduce the purchase of diesel-run vehicles and hence the BMTC was looking at inducting electric buses in its fleet. I was in the tender committee and I had suggested that it would be cost-effective to lease the vehicles out instead of purchasing them," Ganganna told TNM.
BMTC sources say that a previous MD V Ponnuraj was also transferred due to the same reason. Speaking to TNM, Nagaraj, a member of the All India Trade Union Congress and also a member of the BMTC Union, Ganganna Gowda had recorded the least number of bus breakdowns in the recent past.
Ganganna took charge as chief mechanical engineer of BMTC in 2017. "The number of bus breakdowns in my tenure was 0.2% Before my time, 700 to 800 buses would be in the workshop at any given point of time. During my tenure, this was reduced to less than 350. Bus breakdowns were as high as 54,095 during the 2015-16 fiscal. It was to 52,750 in 2016-17 and 41,581 in 2017-18," Ganganna said.
KSRTC Managing Director Shivayogi C Kalasad issued the suspension order at 2 pm on February 28, alleging that vehicles were held up at BMTC workshops, resulting in massive revenue loss to the corporation.
The order also alleged that the vehicles that had been already repaired were found at the workshops once again.
"In December last year, the number of vehicles in the workshop was 330. In November, it was 605. We were also operating on a very old fleet and to get them into working condition and grant a fitness certificate is a long and hard process. We were short on funds too. I am gathering all the documents to submit to the management and get my retirement benefits," Ganganna says.
Nagaraj says that Ganganna was responsible for persuading reluctant BMTC higher-ups to open a new workshop at Dasanapura in Nelamangala, apart from the existing ones at Shantinagar and KR Puram. "He also ensured that workers were not overburdened and introduced the shift system to maintain buses.
But one of the reasons why many workers are not supporting him is because they allege that Ganganna did the same to them. Since 1982 up to until five years ago, they allege Ganganna was responsible for suspending and even dismissing several employees on their last day before retirement.
During his last year as the Regional Controller, Narashimhamurthy, an officer helper who was working under him, was similarly suspended just before his retirement period began. Narashimhamurthy had informed Ganaganna that there was no drinking water facility in the office and Ganganna had suspended him.
â€œEven though he is an honest officer, many current and retired employees are not going to support him because of this. What he did to all of them is happening to him now," Nagaraj added.