In every 3 minutes, a Gujarat State Road Transport Corporation (GSRTC) bus leave Surat city to drop people stranded here due to the Covid-19 lockdown to north Gujarat and Saurashtra. With the daily departure of around 1,000 buses, a total of 1.66 lakh people from Surat had been dropped to different destinations in Gujarat. As many as 5,512 buses had left Surat since May 6.
The state transport department charges only one way fare from the passengers and only 30 people are allowed to travel in the 51-seater bus.
GSRTC Divisional controller Sanjay Joshi said, “We are facing loss in providing such services but we are happy that we are doing humanitarian work by dropping the stranded people. Even the fares are nominal. The bus returns to the station without any passengers. Till today the GSRTC had collected Rs 4.60 crore as fares from passengers. Our team works for 18 hours a day and in every 2.30 minutes one bus leaves with passengers from the Surat depot.”
The diamond industry in Surat has large number of labour force from different districts in Saurashtra and north Gujarat, who were jobless since the last two months after the imposition of lockdown due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
These workers, who are staying alone and many with families, had decided to return to their native place so that they do not have to pay the house rent and worry about their food.
Some local residents made representations to State Minister Kishor Kanani and other BJP MLAs including Kanti Balar, Veenu Moradia, Praveen Goghari seeking help from them to convince the state government to start service of luxury buses from Surat to Saurashtra.
After their intervention, the state transport buses started carrying passengers from Surat to other parts of state from May 6. The dropping stations for passengers are Amreli, Bhavnagar, Junagadh, Botad, Mahisagar, Patan, Dwarka, Mehsana, Jamnagar, Rajkot, Gir Somnath, Bhuj and Godhra.