The ongoing farmer’s protest has taken a heavy toll on Maharashtra State Road Transport Corporation (MSRTC) and is amounting to Rs 6.81 crore in losses due to cancellation of services and damages to buses during the past four days.
Despite being peak festival season, the corporation has been forced to cancel 33,000 trips totalling 20 lakh kilometres, because of the unrest. MSRTC normally rakes in maximum revenue during Diwali and in anticipation of major commuter flow, the corporation was conducting 2,000 additional trips from Pune region.
With a majority of trips operating on the Pune-Bangalore route, which connects Satara, Karad, Kolhapur, Sangli, Miraj and Karnataka, this year has witnessed a major setback with protesters targeting MSRTC buses and blocking the highway. “Our schedule for the festival season has completely collapsed due to the agitation. This is the most revenue generating region of the state and for the Diwali season, we had deployed extra buses,” said a senior MSRTC official on condition of anonymity.
According to information provided by MSRTC officials, protesters torched and stoned around 100 buses, costing Rs 1.51 crore in damages. “Even during the protest, our staff made alternative arrangements to ensure that passengers reached their destinations. During protests, MSRTC buses become the general targets and not private buses,” the official added.
Vijay Divate, depot manager, Swargate, said that most of the trips on Pune-Bangalore highway suffered. Almost all trips from Swargate were cancelled for November 12, 13 and 14, but resumed yesterday. “We have gradually started Kolhapur and Satara trips. We are yet to resume services on four routes towards Sangli, Miraj, Pandharpur, Mangalvedha, Sangola and Akaluj. The decision to restart services on these routes depends on the situation,” Divate said.
Trips cancelled: 33,000
Buses damaged: 100
Cost of damage: Rs 1.51 cr
Loss due to cancellations: Rs 5.30 cr
Total loss in last four days: Rs 6.81 cr