PUNE: Avinash Lonkar walked with a small trolley bag amid groups on bikes zooming past him with flags near Swargate bus stand of the Maharashtra State Road on Thursday morning.
“I am hoping to get a bus to Thane. I know it is a bandh day, but I need to travel because a friend of mine is seriously ill. I somehow managed to get an autorickshaw from Kondhwa and spent Rs 300 to come here. Now I cannot find a rickshaw back home,” Avinash told TOI.
A few moments later, he reluctantly got into an autorickshaw. “It really pinches as I have to pay Rs 250, that too for a shared ride,” he said.
The autorickshaw driver curtly said, “Can you see any autorickshaws plying? I am not forcing anyone to sit in my vehicle.”Autorickshaws were few and charged a bomb. Sridhar Ghatge, a senior citizen, said, “An autorickshaw driver demanded Rs 250 and another Rs 300 for going to from Swargate. I think I shall walk.”
The statewide bandh of the Maratha agitators brought public transport in the city to a standstill. The Pune Mahanagar Parivahan Mahamandal Limited (PMPML) plied only 686 buses till 1pm in comparison to 1,400 on regular days. Then it stopped the services. Late in the night, PMPML CMD Nayana Gunde said, “The bus service will resume on Friday morning as per schedule.”
A PMPML official said, “Agitators damaged five buses at Manjari, Bibvewadi, Swargate and Warje Malwadi. The buses plied in the morning hours, but the passenger load was less. With the agitation intensifying in the afternoon, we decided to suspend the services.”
The MSRTC had announced that no buses would ply from Pune on Thursday. “The regular services will resume from Friday early morning,” an official said.
Babasaheb Khadekar, the president of the Pune Luxury Bus Association, said they too had suspended all operations.
Cabs were hard to come by, too. Rashmi Jog of Fatimanagar had to go to a friend‘s place at Koregaon Park. But she could not book a cab as they were not available. I could see a few on my app but they didn‘t confirm my request,” Rashmi said.
Many people were left stranded at Pune Junction in the absence of cabs and autorickshaws.
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