With the deadline of enforcing the ban on 15-year-old vehicles from plying in Kolkata drawing near,there is no sign of any softening of stand of the transport department and the operators.
The department,which has fixed the July 25 deadline a week ahead of the deadline fixed by the High Court,is firm on confiscating any 15-year-old found running in Kolkata from July 22.
A meeting between state Transport Minister Subhas Chakraborty and taxi and bus associations on Friday failed to find any solution. With the governments stance unchanged,the taxi associations have announced to go on an indefinite strike from July 22.
The transport department could not come up with any solution. They challenged us from going on a strike. Though out of the total 42,000 taxis,only 7,000 are 15-year-old,we will all stand by each other, said Bimal Guha,president of Taxi Bachao Committee.
The transport minister,meanwhile,said the associations were given enough time for a replacement but they delayed the process and are now making a hue and cry over extending the High Court deadline.
The threat of strike will not work anymore. From July 25,we will start our confiscation drive and from July 31 we will follow the High Court ban order. Today,we told the unions to file an appeal before the Division Bench. We might be by their side when they approach the court. However,if things do not change we have to implement the court order, said Chakraborty.
Though bus associations have not announced to join the strike,they are hopeful that the court will scrap the idea of banning 15-year-old vehicles and ban only the polluting vehicles or may even extend the ban deadline.
We have spoken to the minister and told him that we want the order to be altered or extended. We cannot say yet if we will go on a strike, said Sadhan Ghosh of Joint Council of Bus Syndicate.
The transport department will soon form a 13-member committee to look into the pros and cons of the commissioning system that has been blamed for the rise in accidents in the city. The committee will comprise transport operators and officials of transport department. Chakraborty said that the committee will meet the representatives of bus operators and try to work out a system under which a few drivers and conductors can be paid salary thereby replacing the existing commissioning system.
On the issue of increasing the bus and taxi fares in the wake of fuel hike,the transport department will give a final fare structure by July end.