Bengal public transport operators call three-day strike

July 29th, 2010 - 10:01 pm ICT by IANS  

Kolkata, July 29 (IANS) West Bengal’s bus, minibus and taxi operators Thursday announced a three-day strike from August 10 to protest against the state government’s decision not to increase fares after the recent fuel price hike.
“It is impossible for us to run buses as the expenditure has increased substantially. We are going on a strike from August 10 to 12 as the government is unwilling to increase the bus fares even after the fuel price hike,” said Sadhan Das, president, Joint Council of Bus Syndicates.

However, the operators said they would withdraw the strike call if the government accepted their demand by August 10.

The central government had lifted controls on petroleum pricing and hiked the prices of diesel, kerosene, petrol and cooking gas, saying it will help improve its fiscal position and release funds for other programmes.

Following persistent demands from the operators to raise bus and taxi fares, the state government had two days ago announced a subsidy of Rs.1 per litre on diesel used for public transport. But the operators felt the relief was inadequate.

“The subsidy given on oil prices by the state government is not at all enough in the wake of increased expenditure on taxis,” added Bengal Taxi Association assistant secretary Suman Guha.

A meeting between state transport minister and bus operators on the issue proved fruitless Tuesday with the government making clear that it was unwilling to revise the fares.

“We will inform the chief minister, finance minister and other leaders of all political parties by sending them a letter on why we are going on strike from August 10.

“We have no way out. The oil prices have increased to such an extent that the only solution lies in increasing public transport fares. If within this period the fares are increased, we will not go on strike,” said Swarnakamal Saha, Trinamool Congress lawmaker and Bengal Bus Syndicate president.

The central government has hiked the prices of petrol by Rs.3.50 per litre. It also hiked the prices of diesel by Rs.2 a litre, kerosene by Rs.3 a litre and cooking gas by Rs.35 per cylinder.

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