West Bengal: Talks fail between government, transporters

July 28th, 2010 - 11:32 pm ICT by IANS  

Kolkata, July 28 (IANS) A meeting between the West Bengal government and transport operators on a fare hike failed Wednesday with the operators indicating that they would now go for a strike over their demand.
Following persistent demands from the operators to raise bus and taxi fares, the state government had two days back announced subsidy of Re.1 per litre on diesel used for public transport. But the operators felt the relief was inadequate.

“The transport minister is neither willing to increase the bus fares nor is ready to slash taxes or cess on oil prices. The oil prices have gone up. How will we cope up with the increased expenditure of buses after the fuel price hike?” asked Trinamool Congress lawmaker and Bengal Bus Syndicate president Swarnakamal Saha.

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

“The minister says we should manage with the subsidy announced by the state government. But this is not enough. The government should slash taxes and cess on diesel in such a way that the entire effect of the increased diesel price is offset,” Saha said.

“If the bus fare is not increased, it is impossible to run busses. The subsidy given on diesel prices is not enough,” said Sadhan Das of the Joint Council of Bus Syndicate.

The bus operators would meet Thursday amid indications that they might go for an indefinite shutdown.

“Tomorrow (Thursday) we are holding a meeting with all our members. Then we will decide our next line of action. The government is forcing us to call a strike,” Das said.

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