Diwakar Raote, state transport minister, informed, “We want to start transporting goods in ST buses.Our focus is mainly on the farmers coming from remote villages. Our engineers are already working on this project and studying the changes that need to be done in the structure of these buses. One of the major modifications would be to use iron instead of aluminum for the top part of these buses.“
He continued, “Most changes would be made in the interior of the vehicles. We will be working on the luggage compartment which will be solely used to accommodate goods.This will be a cheaper mode of transportation for poor farmers. As of now, we do not have any mechanism for building the buses. So, as soon as the designs are ready, we will call for tenders and the restructuring work will commence. At present, we have a fleet of 18,500 buses but our aim is to reach 30,000 in coming years with this new model.“ Every year, MSRTC manufactures 1,000 new ST buses at different workshops in the state. A senior officer of the transport body, requesting anonymity, shared, “Each state transport bus has a carrying capacity of 15 tonnes, out of which 3.5 tonnes is only the weight of the vehicle. After the bus is occupied by passengers, nearly three tonnes are added. This means that if the bus is designed well, the remaining seven tonnes can also be utilised.“
The amended APMC Act allows farmers to directly sell fruits and vegetables to buyers. Therefore, the overall budget of farmers will drop on lower market charges and transportation costs. The MSRTC’s move will definitely prove a boon to this community, said many.
Santosh Shinde from Shindewadi village, along Pune-Bangalore Highway, said, “Currently, we have to daily hire a tempo or travel in PMPML buses to reach city markets from our village.These vehicles are mostly packed and there is hardly any space to accommodate our goods. Thus, the revamped ST buses will definitely solve our woes and prove affordable, too.“
Dilip Khaire, secretary of APMC Pune, also welcomed the initiative.“This move will help farmers in transporting vegetables and fruits to the market, thereby reducing the prices of these products for end-users. As of now, farmers who bring their goods to the markets have to sell them at a higher price, which includes their transportation cost,“ Khaire told Mirror.
Source : Mirror