The state government Saturday announced that it will provide free bus services within Maharashtra to take migrant workers and other persons, including tourists and students, stranded in various parts of the state, except in Covid-19 containment zones, due to the nationwide lockdown.
Transport Minister Anil Parab said the Maharashtra State Road Transport Corporation bus service will start Monday and will continue till the lockdown is lifted on May 17. “We are taking all possible measures to ensure that the coronavirus doesn’t spread. The buses will be sanitised before and after travel. The passengers will have to wear a mask compulsorily. One person will be allowed on one seat to maintain physical distancing. The free bus services will be available till the end of the lockdown. We feel that all people will be able to reach their native places by then,” Parab told the media. The proposal was approved by Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray on Friday.
Parab said people, who want to travel to their native places, should form a group of 22 people and submit an application with all their details, including destination and contact details, either to the police commissioner in city areas or to district collector in rural areas. “Their letters will be sent to the nodal officer of the concerned district for approval. The people will be informed about the arrangement of the bus after getting the approval from the nodal officer,” he added.
For individual people who want to travel, a portal will be started for them Monday. “The individuals should get permission from police commissioner or district collector and upload it with their application on the portal. The commissioners or collectors will inform us when the number of people with particular destination will reach 20-22 people. Then, we will make arrangement for ST buses and will inform the individuals,” the minister added.
Parab said that to avoid the possibility of infection during the journey, long-distance buses will not halt for meals anywhere. “People should carry their meals. After they reach their destination, the collector or nodal officer of the district will take a call on their medical examination or quarantine,” he added. The state, sources said, is expected to spend an estimated Rs 20 crore for the bus service in first phase, and costs may go up Rs 30 crore.