Seven coaches of the Pune-Mumbai Deccan Queen and six coaches of two local trains were set ablaze by agitating mobs near Ulhasnagar and Ambernath between 11:30 pm to 1:30 pm on Thursday. One hundred and fifty-four BEST buses, 190 state transport buses and 14 taxis were also damaged during the city-wide agitation since the last two days.
“Deccan Queen that was arriving in Mumbai was detained at around 10:20 am between Ulhasnagar and Ambernath station by agitators. At 1:40 pm, the agitating mob set ablaze seven empty coaches of the Deccan Queen that had been standing there. The mob also set on fire three coaches each of two local trains, one coming to Ambernath and one leaving Ambernath. The total damage will run approximately into more than Rs 50 lakhs,” Central Railway’s divisional railway manager RS Virdi said.
With the CR utilizes a total of 96 rakes to run 1,228 services daily, the burning of six coaches may pose a problem for regular running of services. However, Virdi said it may not be a problem as there are spare coaches. “It is a very unfortunate incident. But the damage to six coaches may not majorly affect the functioning of services,” he said.
“The agitation continued throughout the day and services on the Pune line were restored at 6:38 pm, while the Nashik line faced no major problems. All the incidents occurred near Ulhasnagar on the Kalyan-Karjat section. While services on the Kalyan-Ambernath section were totally affected, we ran a few services on the Ambernath-Karjat shuttle,” Ashok Kumar Singh, CR’s press PRO told HT.
“There was also problem on the Thane-Vashi section near Airoli at 9:55 am and spontaneous rail rooks at Bhandup. But they did not affect services majorly,” C Pitambaram, CR’s senior PRO, said.
The city’s municipal bus transport, Brihanmumbai Electric Supply and Transport (BEST) Undertaking also incurred losses to the tune of approximately Rs 1.5 lakh. “About 154 buses were damaged in the riots, 12 drivers injured and one conductor and one lady passenger injured. Most of the buses were damaged due to breaking of window panes, “ BEST’s chief PRO AS Tamboli, said.
The Maharashtra State Road Transport Corporation (MSRTC), the state transport buses had to bear heavy losses to the tune of 1.5 crore. “A total of 190 buses were damaged in the state and five of our buses were totally burnt. From these five buses, we can only salvage the engines. Everytime, there is public discontent, MSRTC is the first target,” Kishore Gajbiye, MSRTC managing director told HT.
While figures for autos were not available, more than 14 taxis were damaged in the past 24 hours. “The total loss runs into more than 1.5 lakh and 14 of our taxis were damaged, Anthony L Quadros, general secretary of Mumbai Taximen’s Union said.