Stu­dents can’t af­ford au­tos & cabs, skip classes

The Times of India (Mumbai edition) - - TIMES CITY - Bella.Jais­ing­hani @times­

AAP leader Preeti Sharma Menon, ex­press­ing her party's sup­port to BEST work­ers, called the state gov­ern­ment “anti-labour”. NCP spokesper­son Nawab Ma­lik al­leged that wetleas­ing of buses will ben­e­fit Shiv Sena lead­ers. “Sena should clar­ify how many such MSRTC buses be­long to its lead­ers,” he said.

As­sur­ing that BEST work­ers’ con­cerns will be ad­dressed, trans­port min­is­ter Di­wakar Raote said the coastal road is not Sena's project. “It is Mum­bai's dream project. The two things are not con­nected.” Mum­bai: The BEST strike has made life dif­fi­cult for lakhs of stu­dents, par­tic­u­larly col­le­gians who do not have ac­cess to school buses, or schol­ars who rely chiefly on pub­lic buses to com­mute to school and tu­ition.

The stu­dents of Sin­hal Classes, an IIT coach­ing cen­tre in And­heri (west), can­not fail to no­tice the irony. Their in­sti­tute is lo­cated in the BEST de­pot build­ing out­side the sta­tion. The com­pound that usu­ally roars with the rush of ve­hi­cles now wears an eerie still­ness.

Among those who are deeply in­con­ve­nienced is Utkarsh Sahu, a class XI stu­dent from Dahisar, who com­mutes by BEST bus four times a day, first to col­lege in Borivli then for IIT coach­ing in And­heri. “The au­thor­i­ties must de­vise an al­ter­na­tive for an in­def­i­nite shut­down of pub­lic trans­port like this. I live at the far end of Dahisar near the man­groves. So, I take a bus to Borivli and then ride a train. It is eas­ier to board a train from Borivli be­cause Vi­rar trains are a night­mare due to over­crowd­ing,” Utkarsh said. Anita Kulkami, a staff mem­ber, says other stu­dents are tak­ing the Metro or are pool­ing Ola/Uber cabs, de­spite high fares.

In Kurla, Fahim Shaikh of Azeem Classes points to ab­sen­teeism. “Af­ter all, how many times can chil­dren hire au­tos?” he said. In Sion, at­ten­dance has dropped by half in Deepak Classes. “Those who can com­mute by train do ar­rive from far-off Bad­la­pur and Kalyan,” says tu­tor Deepak Ch­habria. “But what about stu­dents from Pratik­sha Na­gar or An­top Hill, who have only BEST buses to rely on?”

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