MSRTC strike day 2: Passengers still stranded at Pune bus depots
Bombay High Court, on Wednesday, posted for hearing on Friday two public interest litigations (PILs) filed against the ongoing indefinite strike.pune Updated: Oct 19, 2017 14:28 IST
Day two of the indefinite strike called by the staff of Maharashtra State Road Transport Corporation (MSRTC), caused severe inconvenience to hundreds of passengers who were seen stranded at various bus depots on Wednesday in Pune. Amid this chaos, the Bombay High Court, on Wednesday, posted for hearing on Friday two public interest litigations (PILs) filed against the ongoing indefinite strike.
The worst affected were passengers travelling to far-off rural areas. Most passengers hoped for the strike to end which would allow them to travel home for Diwali. With most offices beginning their Diwali holidays on Thursday, there was heavy rush of passengers on Wednesday.
A student, Devaki Mulay, said, “I belong to a village in the Konkan region and for me travelling by state transport buses is the most convenient option. I wanted to be home with my family for Diwali, but my plans have been shattered. With private buses charging exorbitantly high fares, I have no choice but to hope that the strike would end faster and that I get to travel home on soon.”
Another passenger, Sameer Dev, too stated that the strike is causing severe inconvenience as getting tickets in private buses is also becoming difficult. “I wanted to go to Kolhapur on Thursday, but I am still in Pune. I was hopeful that the strike would end by Wednesday morning, but that has not happened yet. Now, I have no patience to wait and have decided to travel by a cab instead,” he added.
Earlier on Tuesday, with passengers facing severe inconvenience, the Maharashtra government declared buses as an essential service and had warned the striking MSRTC staffers of disciplinary action if they do not resume work by Tuesday night. On Wednesday, unrest grew among the state transport workers in Pune after they were asked to vacate the guest houses at bus depots.
Meanwhile, justice S K Shinde, before whom the PILs were listed, said he would hear the petitions on Friday. The petitions were filed on Wednesday, highlighting the problems being faced by people due to the strike, especially in rural areas, where state transport buses are the only mode of public transport.
According to the petitions, nearly 65 lakh people travel by state transport buses on a daily basis. The PILs have urged the high court to declare the strike, which started from October 16 midnight, as “illegal and bad in law”.
“We are relying on a government notification and court orders wherein it is specifically held that employees working in essential services for public at large, cannot go on strikes. Here, the MSRTC employees are very much aware that it is Diwali season and lakhs of people use their service to go to their hometowns, but still they went on strike,” petitioners’ advocate Pooja Thorat said.
She said while the MSRTC employees’ demands are legitimate, the manner in which they have gone on strike just before the festive season is not correct.
Over one lakh employees of the MSRTC have gone on an indefinite strike demanding a hike in salary. The state-run corporation MSRTC runs 18,000 buses, some of which go to far- flung areas which are not connected by rail network.
(With inputs from Press Trust of India)