Pune: Maharashtra State Road Transport Corporation (MSRTC) bus services to destinations such as Nashik and Solapur were severely affected on Monday due to the agitation and blockades on the Pune-Nashik Highway near Chakan by Maratha Kranti Morcha. ST buses were badly damaged in stone pelting by protestors.
According to officials of MSRTC Pune division, buses going toward Nashik and Solapur were affected as not a single trip could be completed on these routes. At around 12.30 pm, all bus services were cancelled for other destinations including Ahmednagar, Aurangabad and Mumbai.
“In all, AC Volvo buses make 36 trips on the Nashik-Pune route. Besides, 64 trips are made by non-luxury buses. On Monday, all these trips were cancelled due to the agitation. The protest was impromptu. We were releasing buses to Nashik. At around 10 am, we were informed that protesters started targeting ST buses.
“So, we suspended the bus service toward Nashik. A Shivenri, a semi-luxury and three ordinary buses were damaged,” said Dyaneshwar Ranaware, a senior officer with Pune division of MSRTC.
As a precautionary measure, MSRTC cancelled the services in the areas, where intense agitations were on.
The officials said that the buses were packed with passengers. The protesters stopped the buses near Chakan and forced the passengers to deboard. Later, they started pelting stones on buses.
According to senior officials from MSRTC headquarters, Mumbai, 353 buses have been damaged from July 20
“The estimated revenue loss amounts to Rs 22.02 crore due to cancellations and short terminations of services between July 20 and 29. Also, 353 buses have been damaged during the agitation in the past nine days. The Solapur division suffered the maximum damage, as 136 buses were damaged, which is valued at Rs 1.45 crore,” said Abhijeet Bhosale, Public Relations Officer, MSRTC.
Pune division officials said refund of the fare will be made to those who had already booked tickets.
“We are turning away those who are coming to buy tickets due to uncertainty. Bus services are likely to be resumed on Nashik and Solapur routes late in the night or tomorrow. However, it can’t be said with certainty,”
said an official.
Most of the passengers had to join the office, as the working day starts on Monday, however, some were stuck on the road while others had to return to Pune.
Archana Mali, a passenger of Nashik-bound ST bus, told Sakal Times, “As working week starts from today, I had to join office. I was stuck near Chakan for around four hours due to the protest. Later, the driver took the bus back to Shivajinagar.”
Pooja Gurjar used social media to convey her message. “Stuck in traffic for the past 3 hrs on the Pune-Nashik highway. Traffic started from Manchar till Chakan. There were no traffic police to handle the situation. When I asked the rural police, they cut my call,” she posted on Twitter.
While the situation at Nashik Road was tense since morning, company vehicles such as buses and taxis en route from Chakan, Khed, Chimbali, etc, suffered damages due to the riot-like situation.
Bhalchandra Borate, Secretary of the PCMC Private Bus Owners’ Association, said, “Since morning, at least 15 to 20 of our cars and buses were burnt by protesters. At least 100 vehicles were vandalised. Around 125 employee vehicles that entered the companies for the general shift in the morning were stuck inside till late in the evening. The employees on the first shift, who were supposed to leave at 3:30 pm, were also stuck in their offices until as late as 8 pm.”