Statesman news service
Kolkata, 4 September
Private bus operators are likely to go on a two-day strike from 19 September demanding a hike in fares.
Representatives of private bus operators met state transport minister Madan Mitra on 2 September requesting him to hike bus and mini-bus fares. But the minister turned down their proposal saying that at this stage the state government can’t hike fares.
Representatives of the private bus operators feel that the state givernment deceived them by not hiking the fares despite repeated requests.
“It is most unfortunate that the state transport department did not listen to us and increase the fares. Things are turning from bad to worse every day with the price of fuel, lubricants and spares going up. Such indifference will ultimately force us to leave the trade. So, we have decided to go for a two-day strike,” said Mr Tapan Banerjee, joint secretary, Joint Council of Bus Syndicate.
Representatives of the Bengal Bus Syndicate have sent a letter to Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee requesting her to hike bus fares.
“If the chief minister turns down the proposal then we will also join the strike, said Mr Dipak Sarkar, vice president, Bengal Bus Syndicate.
Members of the Mini Bus Operators Coordination Committee are also likely to join the strike. Price of diesel has gone up several times in the last one year.
But, the state government refused to hike the fare which will eventually force the private operators to leave their trade, said Mr Abasesh Daw, general secretary, Mini Bus Operators Coordination Committee.
Mini-bus operators had demanded that the state government to hike the fare by Rs 2 for each stage as cost of spare parts and other equipment of mini bus are costlier than other buses. Maintenance of the vehicles are expensive as well, mini bus operators said.
Everyday private bus and mini bus operators have to incur losses of around Rs 2,100 in operating a vehicle following the massive increase in diesel price and everyday the state transport department earns Rs 650 from a vehicle in the form of sales tax and VAT, said a bus operator.