The lift at the Pune regional office of Employees Provident Fund Organisation (EPFO) in Camp area has not been functioning for the last several months, causing huge inconvenience to visitors, especially senior citizens.
The office is run on rent in a portion of the Pune Cantonment Board (PCB) building. And with a dispute going on between the PCB and PF office over the responsibility of maintaining the lift, nobody has come forward to repair it.
Sharing her difficulties in climbing the three-storey building of the PF office, 55-year-old Hemlata Patekar told Newsline that she has to literally crawl every time to visit the desired department. “Both my knees are weak because of arthritis and I cannot climb even few steps. There are many elderly visitors like me who face difficulties in climbing stairs,” she said. Another senior citizen, Mubeen Khan, said the lift has been non-functional for more than eight months. “Earlier we complained to the authorities about the breakdown of the lift, but it was of no use. Visiting the PF office is a necessary evil for us,” he said.
Responding to Newsline’s e-mail, which detailed out queries regarding poor maintenance of the lift at the PF office, PCB chief executive officer K Venka Nagi Reddy said the maintenance of the lift was beyond the scope of his office. “The PF office is solely responsible for the maintenance of the lift as it was handed over in the best working condition at the time of an agreement between that office and the PCB,” he said, adding that it was the duty of the PF office to maintain and upkeep the assets of the building in working condition and hand it over in the condition that they were initially taken in.
As per official records, the monthly rent paid by the PF office to PCB is Rs 24,332 for 17,640 sq ft area. The rental agreement between both the public authorities expired more than two years ago, sources said. PCB authorities admitted that a dispute is going on regarding registration of agreement with retrospective effect and clearance of dues considering enhanced rates for the period between 2008 and 2013.
When contacted, regional PF commissioner S K Thakur said his office, in the past, had undertaken minor maintenance of the lift, but the current breakdown was a major one. “Being the owner of the entire building, it is the responsibility of the PCB to carry out the current due maintenance of the lift. We are unable to shell out the money for it,” he told Newsline on Friday.