MSRTC strike ends after meeting with minister

PUNE: MSRTC drivers called off their strike after assurances from state transport minister Diwakar Raote on Saturday night.

employees across the state had gone on strike since Friday to demand a hike in salaries.

During the meeting, Raote explained a proposal to increase their salaries. The government had recently approved a Rs 4,849 crore salary revision for over 1lakh employees of the MSRTC.

Raote also said the cases registered against the protesting employees during the strike will be taken back.

On Saturday, after the strike spilled over into its second day, many passengers’ weekend plans got disrupted, or at the very least, became costlier.

Take Rahul Kanitkar for instance. The techie had planned to go home to Mumbai to attend his sister’s engagement, but the strike put paid to his plans of inexpensive travel. He ended up spending nearly Rs2,000 on a cab ride on Saturday evening. “I have been following the MSRTC strike and it’s very frustrating,” Kanitkar fumed. “I had called up the Swargate bus stand and came to know that a few Shivshahi and Shivneri buses were plying, but my father told me not to take any risk. So I had to book an Ola for my ride home for the weekend. It was a must for me to go, as my sister is getting engaged,” Kanitkar added.

Rahul was not alone among passengers to face inconvenience. Several others were either stranded at state transport bus terminals, or had to choose costlier, private means of travel to reach their destination.

According to figures till 6pm obtained from the Pune MSRTC division, of the 1,563 normal departures from Pune, only 135 trips had happened. “I went this morning to Swargate and Shivajinagar depots, but didn’t find any buses to Mumbai. I waited in vain for two hours for a private bus or a cab. We have our college reunion this evening, and I will miss it unless I find transport to suit my pocket,” Shankar Ingle, a student, said.

RTO officials, meanwhile, haven’t received any complaints of passengers getting fleeced by private operators. “We are keeping a close eye (on the situation),” an official said.

However, Sagar Sinha has had to pay as much as Rs1,000 to share a cab ride to Mumbai. “I had no option … I don’t plan on complaining as there would be no point,” he said.

Railway officials have observed a significant swelling of the crowd at the station, but said they will only be able to ascertain the cause after studying the figures. “We need to study ticket sales and come to a conclusion,” a railway official said.

Private buses have, predictably, seen an uptick in the number of passengers. “We are trying to keep up with the demand. A few buses increased the number of daily trips,” a private operator said.

(With inputs from Mumbai)

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