West Bengal Transport Minister Ranjit Kundu has asked transport operators to defer by 10 days their proposed strike seeking higher sops to offset the fuel price hike but the later are yet to take a final decision on it.
The state's bus, minibus and taxi operators announced a three day strike Aug 10-12 to protest against the state government's decision not to increase fares after the recent fuel price hike.
"The state transport minister has asked us to defer the strike by 10 days. But we haven't decided anything on it. We will decide after a meeting on Sunday," president of Joint Council of Bus Syndicates Sadhan Das told IANS.
The central government in June lifted controls on petroleum pricing and hiked the prices of diesel, kerosene, petrol and cooking gas, saying it would help improve its fiscal position and release funds for other programmes.
After the hike, the price of diesel went up by Rs. 2 a litre, kerosene by Rs. 3 a litre, petrol by Rs. 3.50 a litre, and cooking gas by Rs. 35 per cylinder.
Following persistent demands from the operators to raise bus and taxi fares, the state government last month announced a subsidy of Re.1 per litre on diesel used for public transport. But the operators felt the relief was inadequate.
"The minister has asked for some more days to decide on the matter and has requested us to defer our strike. But the irony is that every time we go to him, he asks for some more time. We will take a final call on it after our meeting Sunday," added Bengal Taxi Association general secretary Bimal Guha.
"The subsidy given on fuel prices by the state government is not adequate. It should be given in such a manner that all our increased expenditure is covered. He (minister) has requested to us for 10 more days but we will decide on it only after our meeting on Sunday," Bengal Bus Syndicate senior vice president Dipak Sarkar said.