Pune: Diwali travel plans of commuters across the state have been ruined following the strike called by the Maharashtra State Road Transport Corporation (MSRTC) workers. But it has also affected drivers coming from Marathwada, northern Maharashtra or Vidarbha to Pune on duty. There are 800 bus drivers and conductors attached to the Pune division of the MSRTC.
The MSRTC authorities sealed the restrooms from Tuesday night. Many drivers and conductors are suffering due to this and they do not have access to the luggage which they had placed in the restrooms.
Baburao Ghataokar, a conductor, who hails from Ahmednagar, had purchased clothes and other items for his family for Diwali, which are now locked up in the restroom. He requested the officials to unlock the restroom, but no one responded, claimed Ghataokar.
“I put my gifts and baggage in the restroom and went for breakfast at 10.30 am on Wednesday. On my return, I found the room locked. I asked the depot officials to unlock the room. But they replied that they had already informed us that the rooms would be locked after the strike,” he said.
Sandip Patil, an MSRTC driver, said, “We (drivers and conductors) work during odd hours, travel six days a week and often develop ailments because of irregular sleeping hours and eating habits. This is the only place where we take rest. The authorities have sealed the restroom. What is our fault? Our demands are not very high. What have they given us in return?," he asked.
Dilip Parab, a member of the workers union of Pune division, said, “The authorities are violating human rights. They sealed the restroom, where drivers and conductors sleep and take rest before their next trip. They are harassing us.”
When contacted, Shrinivas Joshi, Divisional Controller, Pune, said, “The workers are on strike. They have no right to use the facility given by the MSRTC. We had already informed them before sealing the restroom.”
MSRTC staffers also pointed out the poor living conditions they had to face at bus depots. At the Shivajinagar depot, around 70 drivers and conductors have to sleep in a hall that has no beds, no water supply and only a few fans. Toilets and bathrooms are not clean, they said, adding that the roof leaks when it rains and there is no secure place to keep their belongings.