Students demand more buses during Diwali vacations

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Pune, October 30: ‘I Care’, a group of students from various colleges in Pune, on Friday submitted a memorandum to Pune divisional commissioner S Chockalingam to reign in bus operators who are charging exorbitant fares due to Diwali rush.

Mohammad Saif Nadeem, founder of I Care, who hails from Yavatmal and studies law here, told Punekar News, “There are thousands of outstation students in Pune which is known as ‘Shikshanacha Maher Ghar’ , Oxford of the East. Diwali being an important festival, the students visit their native places during the vacations to celebrate the festival with their close ones. However owing to more demands, the bus operators have hiked their fares several times the normal fare which is illegal.”

The students including Saif, Ankita Karkar and Kamlesh Sonawane met Chockalingam at the police headquarters in Shivajinagar on the sidelines of 33rd Pune city police sports competition. Senior police officers including Police Commissioner K K Pathak, joint commissioner of police (law and order) Sunil Ramanand and DCP (special branch) Shrikant Pathak were present during the meeting.

Chockalingam and Pathak promised to take up the matter with state transport authorities and help the students.

Many students said that as exam timetable/notification is different for different courses/faculties and that too keeps fluctuating, the railway ticket or other conveyance cannot be booked by students in advance. In addition thereto, during such vacations, private bus tickets are hiked which amounts to exploitation and many needy and deserving students are unable to attend Diwali celebration at their native place.

Speaking to Punekar News, Anuja Kulkarni, who is pursuing M.Sc. agribusiness, economics at the Gokhale Institute of Politics and Economics said, “Festivals are supposed to be celebrated with the family and they bring a wave of joy everywhere. However for a student like me who belongs to Akola and is studying in Pune, festivals also bring with them a task of booking tickets. Yes, for students belonging to Vidharbha it is actually a tedious task. I have to pay 3 to 4 times more than usual during Diwali if I want to go home. For the last two years as I was not able to do this, my mom and dad came to Pune instead. We were here in Diwali while all other family members were in Akola. Some of my friends, whose families are engaged in agriculture, have not been to their home towns since last 3 years as they cannot afford the fare. This is really a headache for students. It spoils the joy of festivals. Moreover, some students somehow arrange for private transport which in turn results in overuse of resources. There has to be some solution for students to travel easily.”

In the memorandum submitted, the students stated that under the garb of ‘season’ the private bus companies hike their tickets/tariff rate immensely. Most of the times such hike are more than 2 to 3 times of the original rates. Many students, especially from Vidarbh and Marathwada regions are from farming and economically weaker sections of the society and hail from drought affected region.

Saif added, “We have requested to start few more buses run by state transport (ST), in addition to the buses already granted for the route. We proposed that such additional buses should be in effect for two weeks i.e. one week before and one week after the day of Laxmi Puja. We have also asked preferential reservation to students.”

The students believe that this initiative will highly motivate the students and will add to the glory and prestige of Pune City as ‘educational hub’ moreover the “state transport” will also be able to generate great revenue out of this initiative.

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