More than 25,000 vehicles, including trucks, private cars and buses, made their way to Mumbai in the past two days to ferry the 5-6 lakh supporters of the Maratha Kranti Morcha. “Parking arrangements were made between Panvel and Vashi, at Cement yard in Bombay Port Trust, in the railway yard near Reay Road and Thane to facilitate the parking of these vehicles. From there, while many used suburban local services to reach the Byculla zoo (the starting point of the march), more than 100 shuttle bus services were arranged to ferry the supporters from the parking stations to Byculla,” Viren Pawar, co-ordinator of Mumbai Maratha Kranti Morcha, said.
Volunteers at the rally said that though the crowd started proceeding towards Azad Maidan at 10 am, the entire strength could only make it inside by 1.30 pm owing to the rush. Stay-over arrangements for those who arrived in the city on Tuesday were also made.
Pawar claimed 65 per cent of the total crowd entered the city by road. While a majority of the crowd from Western Maharashtra used trains to enter, the rest used the Mumbai-Pune Expressway. Supporters from the coastline belt made their way into the city from the Mumbai-Goa Highway and for those who came from Nashik and Khandeshwar used the Thane routes.
“We provided refreshment to each supporter at the parking lots. Toilet facilities were provided. Expecting traffic on Wednesday, many made their way into the city on Tuesday night, for whom facilities were arranged at Vasant Dada Patil college of engineering in Sion,” Pawar added.
To address the rush, Railways ran special local train services 2 pm onwards. “We ran two special trains to clear the extra rush on account of the Maratha Mook Morcha. More 23 safai karmacharis were deployed at Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus. Four extra suburban rakes were put to use, which added 24 services on the harbor and main line,” Sunil Udasi, chief public relations officer of the Central Railway, said.
Commuters, however, complained of inconvenience, saying taxis and autorickshaws refused fares.
“I wasted two hours at CSMT to be able to make it to the platforms to avail a train. The rush was crazy. My friend also told me that many took joyrides in the trains only for sloganeering, which added to the inconvenience,” said Richa Sharma, who wanted to go to Dombivli.
“Our business dipped on Wednesday. Due to the road block, we did not ply services in the south. The traffic was mad in the suburbs too, which meant we had to drive through long routes without many riders,” Altaf Qureshi, taxi driver, said.
Movement of goods vehicles also suffered due to the rush. “Movement of 2,000-3,000 vehicles had to be suspended owing to the rush at BPT. Consignments for exports and imports had to delayed by a day due to the traffic blockage. We will put our parked trucks back on the road after midnight, when the rush has lessened,” Dayanand Natkar from Maharahstra Raya Truck Tempo Tankers Bus Vahatuk Mahasangh said.
Buses run by Brihanmumbai Electric Supply and Transport (BEST) were re-routed in the morning hours to avoid the morcha between Byculla and CSMT.