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Maharashtra transport employees protest after bus driver ends life over non-payment of salary

Maharashtra on Monday witnessed state-wide protests by state transport staff three days after a bus driver killed himself over mounting debts amid low and irregular salaries from the department.

Maharashtra transport employees protest after bus driver ends life over non-payment of salary-VPN
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Mumbai, First Published Aug 30, 2021, 8:27 PM IST
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Maharashtra on Monday witnessed state-wide protests by state transport staff three days after a bus driver killed himself over mounting debts amid low and irregular salaries from the department.

This was the third suicide by a state transport bus driver in Maharashtra in the last nine months.

Media reports claim that over 97,000 MSRTC have not received their salaries since July.

Kamlesh Bedse, 44, had been posted at MSRTC's Sakri depot in Dhule district since 2007. Reports claimed that Bedse had taken a loan of Rs 5 lakh, but he could not repay it on time.

Reaching out to Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray, BJP leader Devendra Fadnavis sought a solution to the problems faced by the MSRTC employees. 

Fadnavis urged the state government to ensure that salaries are paid on time so that the MSRTC staff and their families do not undergo mental stress every month.

State secretariat officials said that a decision to pay the July salaries had been taken a day before the suicide happened at a meeting chaired by state transport minister Anil Parab.

Media reports cited MSRTC Managing Director Shekhar Channe as saying that the bus corporation had suffered huge losses, and efforts were being made to pay salaries every month. 

However, not many are buying the explanation being offered by the MSRTC MD considering that three financial packages totalling Rs 2150 crore had been sanctioned by the state government for the transport body.

Also, this is not the first time that an MSRTC employee took an extreme step over delayed salaries. 

In November last year, bus conductor Manoj Anil Choudhary ended his life and, in a suicide note, blamed the state government for the financial crisis. In the same month, another employee, Pandurang Gadade, committed suicide in Ratnagiri.

MSRTC employee unions said they were overworked and underpaid despite the pandemic. According to unofficial data, over 300 MSRTC employees have lost their lives in the pandemic.

To note, Anil Parab, who was caught on camera directing state police to take Union Minister Narayan Rane into custody last week over his remarks against Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray, has been summoned by the Enforcement Directorate on Tuesday. 

On Monday, the ED raided the residence of Bajrang Kharmate, Deputy RTO from Wardha, in connection with the Anil Deshmukh money laundering case.

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