Skip to main content

Maharashtra govt invokes "draconian" law to crush BEST strike, pursue privatization

Counterview Desk
The People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL) has protested against the use of the Maharashtra Essential Services Maintenance Act (MESMA), terming the law “draconian”, against the striking workers of Mumbai’s public transport body, BEST, saying that workers and their families cannot be penalized in such an “inhuman manner”.
Expressing fear that the administration is bringing in privatization through the back door and making a vital public transport service unaffordable and unsustainable, PUCL, in a statement signed by its convener, ad-hoc committee, has demanded that the state government immediately initiate talks with BEST employees.

Text of the statement:

PUCL Maharashtra expresses shock and dismay at reports that the Bombay Municipal Corporation (BMC) and the Brihanmumbai Electric Supply & Transport Undertaking (BEST) administration have chosen to invoke draconian provisions of the Maharashtra Essential Services Maintenance Act (MESMA) against striking BEST employees, instead of taking steps to respond to their demands and alleviate their grievances at the earliest.
PUCL Maharashtra learns that the BEST administration has issued eviction notices to striking BEST employees and is already trying to remove them and their families from their homes, on the second day of the indefinite strike called by BEST workers’ unions to press for their demands.
Workers and their families cannot be penalised in this inhuman manner for exercising their right to protest and to strike, to press for their legitimate demands. PUCL Maharashtra urges the civic administration to withdraw the notices forthwith.
The strike has been called to demand the merger of the BEST budget with the principal budget of the BMC, in addition to pressing for negotiations with the management on wages, resumption of appointments on compassionate grounds and bonus parity with BMS employees.
The BEST Kruti Samiti, which is the umbrella body of all the BEST employees’ unions spearheading the strike, has also expressed fears that the administration is bringing in privatization through the back door and making a vital public transport service unaffordable and unsustainable.
PUCL Maharashtra is concerned at the systematic dismantling of public transport in Mumbai and the destruction of the BEST, which was once Mumbai’s pride. Alongside, several mega projects have been initiated throughout Maharashtra without any regard for the environmental damage, the loss of livelihood of the fishing community of Mumbai and the high cost of the multi-crore projects, which will ultimately be borne by all citizens.
The state government has invested heavily in car oriented infrastructure, but has systematically starved BEST and refused to invest in bus based public transport (modernization of buses, integration between modes, dedicated bus lanes, bus depot and bus stops improvement, etc.) which has led to the decline of the service and its ridership. By reducing BEST services and scrapping routes the administration is causing harassment to commuters and residents of Mumbai.
It is a criminal shame that the demands of the protesting BEST workers have been met with this kind of penalization and repression from the administration on the one hand and indifference from the state government on the other. The BEST management has no right to declare the workers’ strike “illegal” when it has done nothing to resolve the situation.
The situation today is a combined result of the failure of the BEST management to effectively address the grievances of the workers which relies on their labour and further failure of the state government to push policies to examine ways to strengthen the public transport system for all citizens, instead of adopting multi crore projects at the cost of addressing the real needs and urgent concerns of the citizens.
In light of this, PUCL Maharashtra urges the BEST management to immediately initiate talks with the striking workers to redress their grievances and the state government to strengthen public transport in Mumbai, instead of contributing to its destruction.

Comments

TRENDING

HSBC shareholders seek exit from funding Adani's 'contentious' Australian coalmine

By Our Representative  In a move that may embarrass India's top business house known to be close to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, shareholders of HSBC, a British multinational investment bank, the largest in Europe with total assets of US$2.715 trillion, are likely to decide at its AGM on May 28, 2021 a plan to exit coal financing related to the Adani Group, as it begins digging the Carmichael mega coal mine in Australia, reports Melbourne-based South Asia Times.

Gross 'injustice' to children: Rs 5000 cr cut in education budget; 15 lakh schools shut down

Counterview Desk  More than 100 dignitaries, including educationists, academia, social activists, teachers’ union, civil society organisations (CSOs), various networks and people working on child rights, in a letter to Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman have sought reversal of reduction in allocation for education in the Union Budget 2021-22, even as demanding substantial increase in it.

Communal rhetoric? Hindutva preached by RSS-BJP is 'monolithic', not Hinduism

By Prem Verma*  I am a devout Hindu but not a believer of RSS Hindutva form of Hinduism which brings about hatred of other religions. My Hindu religion has not taught me to look down on other religions and neither has it instilled in me to go about converting others to my religion because my religion is superior.

Buddhist shrines massively destroyed by Brahmanical rulers in "pre-Islamic" era: Historian DN Jha's survey

Nalanda mahavihara By Our Representative Prominent historian DN Jha, an expert in India's ancient and medieval past, in his new book , "Against the Grain: Notes on Identity, Intolerance and History", in a sharp critique of "Hindutva ideologues", who look at the ancient period of Indian history as "a golden age marked by social harmony, devoid of any religious violence", has said, "Demolition and desecration of rival religious establishments, and the appropriation of their idols, was not uncommon in India before the advent of Islam".

Ciminalising 'tool' created, name: Gujarat Land Grabbing Prohibition Act 2020

By Varsha Bhagat-Ganguly, Rejitha Nair* The year 2021 in Gujarat opened its account with 647 alleged land grabbing cases under investigation, 16 FIRs filed against 34 land grabbers within 35 days of Gujarat Land Grabbing Prohibition Act 2020 (GLGPA), as informed by the Additional Chief Secretary (Home), Gujarat State, in a press conference on January 22, 2021. He further informed that of 647 alleged cases, 605 applications of land grabbing were received by different collectors who have initiated suo moto proceedings in 42 cases. The total land in these cases is estimated to be around 1.35 lakh square metre, worth Rs 220 crore as per jantri rates (ready reckoner of land prices in different parts of the state). By March 15, 2021, at least six even cases are before the Gujarat High Court. Of about 11 cases reported in the daily newspapers, in three cases, grabbing of government land is charged, and the rest are land disputes between two individuals. The promptness of the district collect

Swami Vivekananda's views on caste and sexuality were 'painfully' regressive

By Bhaskar Sur* Swami Vivekananda now belongs more to the modern Hindu mythology than reality. It makes a daunting job to discover the real human being who knew unemployment, humiliation of losing a teaching job for 'incompetence', longed in vain for the bliss of a happy conjugal life only to suffer the consequent frustration.

RSS love for 'killer' Myanmar junta behind Indian military presence at Tatmadaw Day?

By Shamsul Islam*  If a shameful act means an action which is criminal and nauseating, it would be an understatement to describe the attitude of the present RSS-BJP rulers of India towards the demolition of democracy and large-scale killing of the people of Myanmar by the military ( tatmadaw ) junta which took power through a coup on February 1, 2021 after renegading the election results in which the party of Aung San Suu Kyi, National League for Democracy, was a clear winner.

Chhattisgarh’s Apra riverfront imitates Sabarmati: 'Devaluing' water, environment

Sabarmati riverfront By Mansee Bal Bhargava*  This year’s #WorldWaterDay (March 22) focus was on ‘Valuing Water’. My school friend, Pragati Tiwari from Bilaspur, Chhattisgarh, called that day knowing my interest in water matters. We were remembering our childhood days as how we used to play on the banks and the bed of the Arpa Nadi (River) during the summer holidays and as how the river would swell like Anaconda to flow happily during the monsoon.

Bihar massacre on Holi day: Brahminical, casteist mindset behind 'uneasy' silence

Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar By Vidya Bhushan Rawat*  Several people were killed in Bihar amidst Holi festivities, but not much response has come in from the media. The silence of the government and the society as a whole is also appalling. We seek to romanticise these festivals, yet we forget that every year they take so many lives. This despite the fact that Holi appears to be the best time for 'avenging things'.

India's draft migrants policy: Whither concern on job restrictions imposed by states?

By Anil Kumar*  India’s Niti Aayog has prepared a Draft Migration Policy. The draft policy acknowledges migration as an integral part of development, and it calls for positive government interventions that facilitate internal migration. With a rights-based solution to migration, the draft states that the policy should “enhance the agency and capability of the community and thereby remove aspects that come in the way of an individual’s own natural ability to thrive”.