Lakhs of protesters to arrive in Mumbai for the Maratha Kranti Morcha, ,govt directed all schools in the island city to stay closed


MUMBAI,August9: Expecting lakhs of protesters to arrive in Mumbai for the Maratha Kranti Morcha, the state government directed all schools in the island city to stay closed on Wednesday while offices government as well as private — told their employees to use only public transport.

Vehicles bringing protesters from across the state will have to be parked in Navi Mumbai and Thane, said police.Nearly 7,000 police personnel will be on bandobast across the city from 5am.

The Maratha Kranti Morcha will start from Byculla zoo at 10.30am and proceed to Azad Maidan. The protesters are expected to disperse around 5pm.

Ahead of Wednesday’s Maratha Kranti Morcha in the city , the education department in a circular issued to all island city schools, said, “Traffic congestion is expected in south Mumbai. School transport could be affected and students might be inconvenienced.

Hence schools must be shut on August 9,” The department has asked schools to compensate for the lost academic time on other days.

Cathedral and John Connon School, Fort, which is close to Azad Maidan, the protest venue, said they had already decided to remain shut.

Certain colleges close to Azad Maidan, like St Xavier’s, too will remain closed. Education minister Vinod Tawde said in the legislative assembly , “This is being done for the convenience of children as roads are going to be clogged.” Police may use drones to monitor the rally .

The BMC has razed a railing of Azad Maidan to create a wider entrance for protesters and merge the venue with Bombay Gymkhana ground so that more people can be accommodated.

Mobile toilets, drinking water facilities and medical camps have been set up along the rally route–Byculla zoo to Azad Maidan. J J Hospital will deploy three ambulances in the island city .

An entire ward with 25 beds has been kept on standby at the staterun hospital. The BMC’s disaster cell management has also asked private hospitals to remain ready for emergencies.

The morcha is expected to take a toll on the city, especially the traffic and the public transport system, as the protesters who are camping at APMC in Navi Mumbai and Anand Nagar in Thane, will take buses and trains to reach the island city. The southbound Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar Road from Fire Brigade junction in Dadar (E) to JJ flyover and CSMT will remain shut except for emergency services, said a Mumbai traffic police advisory .

Authorities have also banned heavy vehicles on the Mumbai-bound lane of the Pune Expressway from 7am to 11am on Wednesday to avoid traffic jams and facilitate movement of vehicles carrying participants of the rally .

On Tuesday , one of the convenors of the morcha, Raghunath Chitre-Patil, who inspected the rally route–Dr BA Ambedkarroad from Byculla Zoo to CSMT–said all vehicles parked along the route had been removed to make way for protesters.

He said that over a lakh convenors have reached the city . “We have got more than 32 lakh likes on our Facebook page and over 22 lakh missed calls on a toll free number,” said Chitre-Patil.

Maratha legislators, led by ex-CM Narayan Rane, will meet chief minister Devendra Fadnavis after the rally with a memorandum of demands.”We hope this will be the last morcha and the government meets our demands,” said Rane.

The Sena too has backed the morcha and its legislators are likely to join the rally. Congress leader Ashok Chavan too has extended his support and will jointhe rally .

Supply of essential commodities and other goods to Mumbai could be partially hit due to the morcha, said a source. Bal Malkit Singh of All In dia Motor Transport Congress said: “The movement of goods may slow down due to traffic snarls. Consignments arriving for export will be hit.”

In Navi Mumbai, where several protesters are camping, the city traffic wing has made parking arrangements at playgrounds, railway stations and APMC to avoid traffic snarls. The APMC vegetable, fruits, onion-potato, spices and grains market will be shut on Wednesday as mathadis, traders and transporters have backed the Maratha Kranti Morcha and will join the rally .