The deadlock between the state government and the private bus operators of Kolkata over fare hike has aggravated with a section of private bus operators deciding to go on hunger strike from the first week of September if demands are not fulfilled within this month.

The hunger strike has been called by the Joint Council of Bus Syndicates (JCBS) against both the central and the state governments. The bus owners have been demanding a fare hike from the state government to help them tide over the losses incurred due to the pandemic.

Simultaneously, the private bus operators are demanding extension of insurance certificate, interest-free moratorium period, reduction in diesel prices and special financial package for the transport operators of the state from the central government.

The members of the union filed a second deputation to the Governor this week urging the central government to fulfill their demands. The JCBS members had also filed deputation to all the banks and insurance companies in the state on 4 August for waiving off the EMIs and insurance premiums.

“We have been patient for days while waiting for a solution of the problem. Receiving no response from the central or the state authorities, we have no options than to opt for hunger strike. We will wait till the end of this month.” said Tapan Banerjee, general secretary of the organisation.

“The indefinite demonstration is to take place across the state. In Kolkata, the members are mulling over plans to organise the strike near Ychannel at Esplanade. A similar protest is to be held in front of district magistrate offices in various parts of the state including Malda, East Midnapore. According to the general secretary, the date for the strike is yet to be decided and will be declared by next week. “Uncertainty on the continuation of the lockdown in the next month is also a hurdle in deciding the dates,” said the union leader of the bus syndicates.