Hundreds of people wanting to return to their hometowns in various parts of western Maharashtra for Diwali were left stranded in Pune as Maharashtra State Road Transport Corporation’s ( MSRTC) bus services in Satara, Sangli, Kolhapur and Solapur were suspended on Tuesday due to the ongoing agitation by Swabhimani Shetkari Sanghatana demanding MSP of Rs3,000 for sugarcane growers.
Pune division of the MSRTC has cancelled nearly 1,000 operations from the city to these districts.
After the agitation became violent on Monday, the agitators had set 10 MSRTC buses on fire and damaged over 50 of them. Rajendra Patil, regional manager of MSRTC, said, “On Monday, 10 buses were set on fire and 58 were damaged. There were fresh cases of attack on MSRTC buses due to which we decided to suspend operations in affected districts.”
The MSRTC’s Pune division had planned to run 2,000 extra buses during the festive season.
However, it could not even run their regular ones to these districts on the day of Lakshmi pooja. The Swargate bus depot, which runs over 1,650 buses daily, had to cancel nearly 1,000 of them on Tuesday.
Also, the lack of bus services forced many passengers to cancel their tickets.
Prachi Desai, who wanted to go to her hometown in Solapur district, told DNA, “I had booked my ticket in advance to go to my hometown. However, when I reached Swargate Depot, I realised that no bus was going to Solapur. After waiting for many hours at the depot, I did not see any hope of starting the bus service. So, I was left with no option but to cancel the ticket.”
Subhash Yadav, who could not go to Sangli, said, “ I reached Swargate depot in the afternoon only to realise that the bus was cancelled. I had to cancel the ticket, but the MSRTC deducted Rs26 from the ticketing amount, which is unfair.”
Anand Patil from Solapur district said, “I wanted to go to my parents place to celebrate Diwali, but I realised that no MSRTC bus was going there. Therefore, I went to private bus operators who were charging nearly 5-6 times more than the actual fares.”
The cancellation of tickets has forced MSRTC to return over Rs3 lakh in two days to the passengers. Besides, they have received over 800 applications for cancellation of e-tickets.
Baba Shinde, president of Pune Private Bus Owners’ Association, said, “Many of the operators have cancelled their services to these districts. However, those who are operating are charging more as the demand is huge.”