Orissa private bus owners announce indefinite strike (Lead)

October 2nd, 2009 - 11:32 pm ICT by IANS  

Bhubaneswar, Oct 2 (IANS) The private bus owners in Orissa Friday night announced an indefinite strike from Sunday after the state government refused to roll back the toll fee and turned down their three-point proposal.
“We have received a letter from the state government turning down our proposal - of reduction in VAT, keeping the old toll fee rate and giving concession in diesel VAT. We have, therefore, decided to go on statewide strike from 4th of this month,” said Prakash Mishra, president of the private bus owners’ association.

Bus services were badly hit in the state, especially in coastal districts as about 1,000 private buses kept off the National Highway 5 and 5A.

The private bus owners went on strike Thursday protesting the ‘exorbitant’ hike in toll fee collected along the national highways.

The state government had earlier appealed to the private bus owners not to go on strike and said that the toll fee is collected uniformly by the National Highways Authority of India across the country and the state government has nothing to do with it.

According to the state private bus owners’ association about 5,000-6,000 private buses would go off road from Sunday.

However, the bus owners association said they are ready to consider any proposal from the state government except hiking of the bus fare.

“The state government has turned down our proposal. But we are open to any proposal from the state government apart from hiking the fare as we are not ready to pass on the additional burden to the passengers,” Mishra said.

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