Bengal transporters defer three-day strike till Aug 22

August 8th, 2010 - 7:56 pm ICT by IANS  

Kolkata, Aug 8 (IANS) West Bengal’s bus, minibus and taxi operators Sunday announced they would defer the three-day transport strike starting Tuesday till Aug 22 and wait for the government’s decision to compensate them for the recent fuel price hike.
The transport operators had earlier announced a three-day strike Aug 10-12 to protest against the state government’s decision not to increase fares after the fuel price hike.

“The (Transport) minister (Ranjit Kundu) has asked for 10 days from the bus operators and 15 days from taxi operators to decide on the matter of fare hike and the ways to compensate our increased expenditure after the fuel price hike. So respecting his request we have also decided to defer our transport strike call till August 22,” Sadhan Das, president, Joint Council of Bus Syndicates told IANS.

The central government had lifted controls on petroleum pricing and hiked the prices of diesel, kerosene, petrol and cooking gas, saying it would help improve its fiscal position and release funds for other programmes. Prices of petrol went up by Rs.3.50 per litre, diesel by Rs.2 a litre, kerosene by Rs.3 a litre and cooking gas by Rs.35 per cylinder.

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

“We will wait till Aug 22 and see what decision government takes regarding our demands and we will take a call after that,” Bengal Taxi Association assistant secretary Suman Guha added.

Earlier, a meeting between Kundu and bus operators on the issue proved fruitless with the government making clear that it was unwilling to revise the fares.

“The subsidy given on oil prices by the state government is not at all enough in the wake of increased expenditure on taxis. The subsidy should be given in such a manner that all the all our increased expenditure is covered,” Bengal Bus Syndicate’s senior vice president Dipak Sarkar said.

“The minister has requested to give him few more days so we have decided to defer our strike till August 22. We will see what decision government takes on this issue,” Sarkar added.

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