Auto rickshaws, however, came to the rescue today
Statesman News Service
Kolkata, 6 January
Commuters throughout the state were greatly inconvenienced following the 24-hour bus strike called by the six bus operators unions demanding immediate fare hike.
Most of the private buses were off the road. Auto rickshaws, however, came to the rescue of the commuters today. Though the government had plied its fleet of buses and trams, all were overcrowded and difficult to board. A middle-aged woman was seriously injured after she fell off a crowded bus and was hit by another bus coming from behind at Kareya. She has been admitted to Chittaranjan National Medical College and hospital.
Altogether ,45,000 private and mini buses were off the road today.
Life was badly hit in East and West Midnapore, Bankura, Purulia, Howarh, Hooghly, Burdwan, Murshidabad and north Bengal districts today as most private buses and minibuses took part in the strike.
Despite the state transport minister Madan Mitra’s assurance that most of the state run buses would ply and commuters would not be affected, thousands of commuters and office goers had to wait for long to catch a bus.
Mr Anindo Ghosh who came to Sealdah station from Sodepur this morning said he was stranded at the station for more than an hour. Mr Ghosh later boarded an overcrowded state run bus to reach his office at Esplanade.
Ms Ranjita Pathak who came from Barrackpore at Sealdah station this afternoon said she had an appointment with a doctor in Park Circus. She could not find any bus for an hour. “Later, I had to shell out Rs 300 as i took a taxi till Pirk Circus five-point crossing,” she said. The private bus operators, including the Joint Council of Bus Syndicate and Bengal Bus Syndicate and a few Mini Bus Operators Coordination Committee had called the strike demanding a revision in the fares in view of the hike in the price of diesel.
“The government was not considering their demand. We will not allow any harassment of the commuters. Instead of troubling the government, the operators have been harassing the commuters. The government will thwart their attempts,” said Mr Madan Mitra, adding, additional state government buses were being run today. Vessels services on Hooghly river, however, were normal, claimed the minister.
“We requested the state government to hike the bus fare 48 times for the past one and half years. Diesel price was hiked for several times in the past two years. The only fare hike was done on 1 November, 2012 since the TMC assumed power in the state,” said Mr Tapan Banerjee, joint secretary, Joint Council of Bus Syndicate. If the government does not hike fares, bus operators will begin an indefinite bus strike in the state, Mr Banerjee said.