If the private bus owners do not reinstate the 1,200 buses, that were purchased under the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM) scheme, within next 48 hours, the state government would seize all the vehicles.
State transport minister on Thursday stated that the government has every right to seize them because all the owners have defaulted on their loans.
“The owners of the buses have adopted a very unfair means of practice. They are not paying the EMIs on the alibi that the buses are not making enough profit. At the same time they are not plying the buses on roads. We will not tolerate this and seize all the buses,” said Mitra.
A visibly angry Tapan Banerjee, the joint secretary of Joint Council of Bus Syndicate, said, “We are already dead. And the government is not trying to help us. Mitra’s threat won’t have any impact on us since we have nothing else to lose. He need not have to seize the vehicles. Let him fix a date, time and location we will handover these buses on our own.”
About 37,000 private buses operate across the state and among them nearly 6,500 buses ply on Kolkata roads.
Due to steep rise in diesel price and ineffective government policy against fare hike, around 40% buses have already stopped plying.
Of this 40%, 1,200 are JNNURM buses, said Banerjee.
Bus owners said the Left Front government had already damaged their business and the present Trinamool government has hit the final nail in the coffin with their no-fare hike policy.
“The price of a JNNURM bus is Rs. 19 lakh. After government subsidy, we had to take a loan of R8 lakh to purchase these buses. The government had fixed the EMI at Rs. 22,000 for a period of 96 months and it implies that we will end up paying more than R21 lakh in eight years. Who will pay such an amount even after procuring those buses at a high rate of interest?” asked Banerjee.