Students can’t afford autos & cabs, skip classes
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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