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May 04, 2010 at 03:43pm IST

ESMA invoked as striking motormen halt Mumbai

Mumbai: Mumbai has come to a virtual standstill as only 20 per cent of its local trains - the lifeline of the city - are plying Tuesday as an indefinite strike by motormen entered its second day.

The state government has invoked ESMA against the striking Railway motormen after approval from the Central ministry. Striking motormen are being physically removed from railway premises for obstructing movement of passengers and stopping other motormen from work.

Over seven million commuters, including office-goers and students, were severely hit Tuesday. The agitation by over 600 motormen on the Western Railway (WR) and Central Railway (CR), compelled the railways to issue a rare advisory Tuesday morning.

After complete chaos on Monday, the Central Railways has advised people in Mumbai to use the locals only in case of emergency on Tuesday following the strike by the motormen.

In fact, out of 1200 Western Railway services just 250 are running Tuesday. Long distance train coaches are now being used to transport people between the Churchgate and Virar stations.

Ten motormen have been dismissed so far and further action's expected. For now, a helpline has been opened for passengers. One may call at 022-10721 for help.

The railways have sent out an advisory that people should use locals only in case of an emergency. The commuters had a harrowing time Monday as train services from Churchgate station were affected. Local trains on the western line too came to a halt briefly and services on the central line were cancelled.

Additional buses had to be pressed in to service to provide alternative transportation. Authorities are contemplating strict action if the hunger strike continues by the motormen of the central and western lines, who are demanding better pay and allowances.

Motormen in hundreds are on indefinite strike since Monday morning as a result of which commuters got stuck during peak rush hour.

The Western Railways says they are running 20 per cent of the rail services. Out of 1200 services, they are running 250. Every 20 minutes there is a train which is being run from Church Gate to Borivali and thereafter to Virar. Also the long distance train coaches are being utilised for taking commuters between Churchgate and Virar.

Sensing the critical situation, a grim Chief Minister Ashok Chavan indicated that he would take up the commuters' matter with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

While hundreds of commuters managed to reach their homes late Monday, the situation was worse Tuesday morning with the railways announcing the cancellation of nearly 80 per cent of the total 2,000 daily services.

The BEST and MSRTC chipped in to help the stranded commuters by deploying additional services in the city and elsewhere. Mumbai University announced that any student who was delayed for the 40-odd final examinations need not panic, they would be permitted extra time to write their papers.

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