Indo-Asian News Service
Kolkata, 6 January
Normal life was thrown out of gear in West Bengal today as most private buses and minibuses did not ply as transport operators called a 24-hour strike for press their demand for a fare hike.
Commuters in Kolkata faced a harrowing time as only a handful of private and minibuses hit the roads. Many travelled standing on footboards of overcrowded buses.
Benefiting from the buses strike, auto-rickshaws and taxis charged two to three times the normal fare from passengers.
Blaming the strikers, Transport Minister Madan Mitra said: "A number of buses which came out on the roads were damaged, stones were thrown indiscriminately at them."
Mr Mitra threatened to take strong action if the strike was not immediately withdrawn. He also ruled out any rise in fares and said the government would not submit to any strong-arm tactics.
As many as five associations have called the strike. These are: Bengal Bus Syndicate, Joint Council of Bus Syndicates, the Minibus operator’s Coordination Committee and the All Bengal Bus and Mini Bus Coordination Committee, Howrah, and North Bengal Passenger Transport Owners’ Coordination Committee.