Pune: Maharashtra State Road Transport Corporation (MSRTC) buses became a soft target during the protest launched by the Maratha Kranti Morcha in Aurangabad. Hence, MSRTC on Tuesday cancelled several buses plying between Pune and Aurangabad due to the protest.
Also, ST buses plying on the Pune-Mumbai route are likely to be affected due to the Mumbai bandh on Wednesday.
The struggle for the Maratha reservations in Maharashtra is appearing to spread across the State. In the last four days, 63 ST buses were targeted by protestors and on Tuesday, around 47 trips were cancelled due to the agitation.
The agitation is intense in the Marathwada region. Here, ST buses have become the main target. In the backdrop, MSRTC has cancelled buses plying on many routes.
“Most of the buses are plying towards Aurangabad from the Shivajinagar ST station, Pune. We have not released any bus for Aurangabad. The buses like Shivneri, Shivshahi, Asiad and other ordinary buses are plying regularly on these routes,” said Dnyaneshwar Ranaware, Depot Incharge at the Shivajinagar ST station.
“Those who have already booked their tickets online have the only option to cancel them and also we are not issuing window tickets. Till further notice from the division, we will not ply buses,” Ranaware, further added.
Sachin Patil, a resident of Aundh, had booked a ticket for Aurangabad by Shivneri.
He told Sakal Times, “There is an emergency in my family in Aurangabad. I have to go there, but at the last moment, we got to know that buses are not plying. So, now I have no other option to go there so I will have to wait till the agitation gets over.”
Popat Ghule, another passenger, said, “I was here to visit my folks and was supposed to leave today (Tuesday) as I have to join office tomorrow but as the buses have been cancelled I will have to wait for another day.”
“We have lost Rs 45 lakh of revenue due to cancellations and short terminations of services. Also, a total of 169 buses have been damaged due to the agitation. These incidents happened in several parts of the State,” said Abhijeet Bhosale, Public Relations Officer, MSRTC.
Officials with the Pune Division said that the transport body has made arrangements to refund the fare amounts to those who had already booked the tickets.
“We are turning away those who are coming to buy tickets at the window due to uncertainty. It is possible that later in the night (Tuesday) or tomorrow (Wednesday), buses will ply on Aurangabad route but it can’t be said with certainty,” said an official.
The Maratha Kranti Morcha has appealed to protesters not to target private vehicles and ST buses, by which warkaris and pilgrims are returning from Pandharpur.