The 48-hour nationwide strike that is underway evoked very little response in the city yesterday with taxis, rickshaws and BEST buses plying normally and schools and colleges deciding to stay open.
However, the normally bustling Regional Transport Offices (RTOs) in the city wore a deserted look, as many of their employees did not turn up for work. Although all three RTOs at Tardeo, Andheri and Wadala remained open, securing driving licences, renewals, and registration of new vehicles or paying fines or taxes took a hit, as clerks did not report for work.
“Unless clerks don’t carry out essential paperwork, we cannot pass the files. Also not too many people were seen at the office due to the bandh,” said an RTO official, on condition of anonymity. Around 1,000 people on an average visit the RTOs daily. Apart from that even the Transport department at Bandra (E) was shut, since there was no one working. Elsewhere, public transport operated normally in the city and suburbs with trains running on time. Local trains, however, witnessed comparatively less commuters than usual. Even taxis and auto rickshaws were plying normally.
Minor stone-pelting incidents were reported from Bhandup and Powai early in the morning. Miscreants shattered the front windscreens of two buses. However, the situation was brought under control immediately. BEST officials said as a precaution, they had also fitted steel meshes on the bus windows. Fearing damage, the BEST administration, however, did not press into service 270 AC buses that ply on 27 routes.
“Passengers who used non-AC buses have been given tickets equivalent to AC bus fares, as the ordinary fare software was not installed in the ticket issuing machine. But all passengers that travelled in non-AC buses with AC bus fare will be refunded the excess amount paid by them on production of the AC ticket they purchased,” said A Tamboli, senior PRO, BEST Undertaking.
Mumbai, suburbs peaceful
Life in the city was normal, barring stray incidents of stone pelting and attempts to stop buses and trains. According to traffic police and railway officials, attempts were made to halt buses in Mumbai and trains in the western suburbs, but most of these efforts were unsuccessful due to police presence. However, the financial sector was crippled, as all banks, insurance companies and commercial institutions remained shut.
The all-India shutdown call is in support of various demands by the unions, including measures to counter inflation, steps for employment generation, job security, universal social security, and hiking the minimum wage to Rs.10,000 per month along with daily allowance.