Commuters bear the brunt of bus strike, govt unmoved on fare hike

Commuters had a tough time in West Bengal as more than 49,000 private buses and mini buses remained off road Monday demanding a rise in fare.

The state government pressed in its own fleet of buses and trams to ease the situation created by the 24-hour strike, called jointly by five private bus unions.

Transport minister Madan Mitra, however, reiterated that there won't be any fare hike in the near future.

"There is no such possibility at the moment," he said, adding that commuters had to suffer a lot owing to the strike and "the state government will take appropriate steps against errant bus owners."

He also said that the government was mulling cancelling permits of such buses owners.

Incidentally, the only fare hike since Mamata Banerjee-led Trinamool Congress government came to power was on November 1, 2012.

Tapan Banerjee, joint secretary, Joint Council of Bus Syndicates, said that were forced to go on strike. "There had been several rounds of talks and letters were submitted to the government but to no avail," he said. On Mitra's statement about revoking permits, he said, "If the state thinks it can, let it go ahead. We will also fight it legally."

General secretary, Mini-Bus Operators Coordination Committee, Abashesh Daw, said it apart from the price of diesel —- which has been revised upwards 15 times since November, 2012 — the rates of spare parts, lubricants and insurance premium too have risen. "It is but natural that the fares should be raised.," he said.

Meanwhile, autorickshaws and taxis had a field day with reports of overcharging coming in from different parts of the state.

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