A day after the Mumbai-Bengaluru highway was opened for traffic, buses of the Maharashtra State Road Transport Corporation (MSRTC) started plying on the route that had remained shut for over a week. The bus service between Pune and Kolhapur had earlier been completely halted near Shiroli village at Kolhapur, on the national highway.
Officials from MSRTC’s Pune division said services to Kolhapur had been partially restored, but the service to Sangli was yet to start. The recent floods in the state, caused by incessant rain, had done the most damage in Kolhapur and Sangli districts.
“The first bus — Shivshahi — for Kolhapur left at 6.15 am on Tuesday, and it was full. Till evening, 12 buses were sent from Swargate to Kolhapur. But the bus service to Sangli has still not started due to waterlogging,” said Swargate ST depot manager P L Kamble.
“As the condition of the roads return to normal and traffic eases, the service will improve… buses from Kolhapur are also plying to Pune and they are all full. We are hopeful that this service will continue without any interruptions,” he said.
Yamini Joshi, divisional controller of MSRTC Pune, said as the road had opened after an entire week, parts of it were experiencing traffic congestion. “The route is open… but the lanes from Pune to Kolhapur are still jammed as over 18,000 vehicles were stranded there when the road was closed. That’s why we are not sending buses to Kolhapur at our normal frequency,” said Joshi.
Traffic on the route towards Konkan, including Ratnagiri, has also been hit by the floods. “There is also a high demand for buses to Goa, but we are yet to start the service,” said Joshi.
With services halted for days, the Pune division has incurred a loss of Rs 50 lakh in the last few days. The MSRTC’s Kolhapur division has cancelled 29,517 trips from August 1 to August 9, and incurred a loss in revenue of Rs 3.30 crore.
As traffic between Pune and Kolhapur limped back to normal, passengers heaved a sigh of relief. Vijay Sali, a resident of Kolhapur who was stranded in Pune for over a week, said, “I came to Pune for some work and was supposed to return on August 9. I got to know that there were no buses and trains to Kolhapur as the highway was blocked. I was worried for my family,” said Sali.
Meanwhile, medium lift helicopters of South Western Air Command, deployed in Kolhapur, continued air dropping relief material such as food packets and water bottles at Kurundwad area on Tuesday. In many areas, which have remained otherwise inaccessible, IAF helicopters are being utilised. The IAF helicopters have carried out 11 sorties and air dropped 12,300 kg of food and water bottles.
Power supply restored to 3.15 lakh consumers
The Maharashtra State Electricity Distribution Corporation Limited (MSEDCL) has restored power supply to 3.15 lakh consumers in Sangli and Kolhapur districts, which had suffered power cuts for over a week after thousands of transformers were submerged in the heavy rain. The power distribution body said that the restoration of power supply was a result of constant efforts by its employees.
According to MSEDCL officials, the power supply from 17,189 transformers in 33 sub-divisions in western Maharashtra was hit by the floods from August 8. A total of 5.7 lakh consumers, including 4 lakh household ones and 1.69 lakh agricultural consumers, had suffered power outage.
The MSEDCL said repair work will take slightly longer in some hilly and remote areas, where water levels have not gone down yet.