Thane bandh begins; buses damaged
A bandh called by major political parties in Thane against ongoing demolition of illegal structures without providing alternate accommodation to the occupants began with some persons damaging at least 12 buses in the wee hours today, police said.
Parties, including Congress, NCP and Shiv Sena, gave call to the dawn-to-dusk shutdown against the razing of illegal buildings by Thane Municipal Corporation (TMC) while demanding that alternate accommodation be provided to residents who will be displaced in the drive.
Unidentified persons pelted the buses with stones at different areas in the city.
At least eight out of the twelve buses damaged belonged to Thane Municipal Transport (TMT) and rest of state government, police said.
With political parties, except Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) and BJP, participating in the bandh, public transport and autos have gone off the roads, causing inconvenience to people, especially office-goers, in the morning hours.
Shops and other commercial establishments have also downed their shutters.
Meanwhile, police detained one person while he, along with others, was allegedly deflating tyres of state-run buses under Thane Nagar police station limits.
The collapse of an illegal building in Mumbra, the suburb of Thane district of late, which had left over 70 people dead and scores injured, prompted TMC to wield hammer on unauthorised structures.
Local MLAs--Eknath Shinde (Shiv Sena) and Jitendra Avhad (NCP), among others, have opposed the demolition drive demanding rehabilitation of residents of illegal buildings and sought regularisation of these structures.
Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan, however, refused to stay the demolition of illegal constructions expressing concerns over safety of residents.
"The drive to raze 57 very dangerous buildings is on (in Thane) following an impending risk of collapse. As many as 1,094 buildings there are dangerous", Chavan told Legislative Assembly yesterday.
However, Shinde and Avhad contended that the demolition be stopped immediately. "11 lakh out of 18 lakh population of Thane lives in slums and illegal buildings. Government cannot dislocate such a large population," they had said.
The students whose examinations were scheduled today were the worst affected by the bandh in Thane.
Many students were stranded near the Thane Railway Station as they could not reach their exam centres as the buses were not plying.
The buses of Thane Municipal Transport (TMT), MSRTC and BEST buses were not seen plying on the roads of Thane city that wore a deserted look. Some persons allegedly tried to set afire the car of a man who had taken his ward to an examination centre.
However, as the car owner came rushing towards his vehicle, the persons ran away.
Those supporting the bandh were also seen trying to stop private vehicles, including bikes and cars, from plying on roads.
Police said the bandh was total and security stepped up in the city as a precautionary measure.