More than 40 lakh daily commuters, including office-goers and school children, in West Bengal faced a harrowing time Monday due to an indefinite strike of the bus operators demanding a fare hike. The state government accused the operators of blackmailing it.
"We have taken all measures. If the bus owners don't want to run the buses then they should surrender their permits we will give to other people who are willing to run it," transport minister Madan Mitra said, criticizing the owners, as 35,000 buses across the state remained off the roads.
Scenes of long queues in front of bus and taxi stands were witnessed across various parts of the state as office and school goers faced a tough time in reaching their destinations due to non-availability of busses.
In a bid to pressurise the West Bengal government into increasing bus and taxi fares, Joint Council of Bus Syndicate, one of the largest bus operators of state, has decided to go on an indefinite strike from September 17.
The demand of bus fare hike comes in the wake of the diesel price hike by Rs. 5 a litre.
"We know that the commuters are facing problem but what can we do. It is impossible for us to run the buses without fare hike as we are incurring heavy losses," said Sadhan Das of the bus syndicate.
The union government Thursday hiked diesel prices by Rs. 5 a litre and capped supply of subsidized cooking gas cylinders to six per family per year. The decisions came into effect midnight Thursday.
The state government has assured that the administration will ply more government buses to maintain normalcy.
Tapan Bandopadhyay, of the bus syndicate threatened that if the fares are not increased they would continue with the strike and would not succumb to any pressure from the government.