Citing staff shortage during Ganeshotsav, the city’s school bus operators have asked the education department to allow them not to ply on the first few days of the festival.
The move follows Maharashtra Navnirman Vidyarthi Sena's (MNVS) five-day break demand.
The School Bus Owners' Association (SBOA), which runs 4,000 buses across the state, including 300 in Mumbai, said they support MNVS’ demand for a compulsory break.
“Every year, our women attendants and drivers take leave or work half-day during the festival,” said Anil Garg, SBOA’s president. “This makes it difficult to provide services.”
Traffic snarls and roadblocks caused by the pandals in many localities add to the drivers’ woes, Garg said. Meanwhile, the education department may just leave it up to the schools to decide about Ganeshotsav break.
“The last time too, the government left it up to schools to declare holidays, we may do the same thing this year,” said Nand Kumar, principal secretary, but added a final decision was yet to be taken.
The schools are still divided about declaring the five-day break.
“For the past two years, we have had to declare holidays at the last minute, owing to pressure from MNVS,” said Sangeeta Srivastava, principal, Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel Vidyalaya and Junior College, Kandivli. “This year, we had the break fitted into our academic calendar.”
Srivastava said students have a hard time coming to school during the festival. “We don’t have our own buses. Owing to the traffic, we have noticed children reach home quite late.”