Ruling out any hike in bus fare,West Bengal transport minister Madan Mitra Tuesday urged bus operators not to resort to the proposed two-day strike from September 19.
Why 48 hours? The state government will not effect any bus fare hike even if the operators resort to 96-hour strike. Even if there was a chance of increasing the fare,they would blow it by going ahead with the strike, he said.
Dubbing Mitras comment as unfortunate,joint secretary of joint council of bus syndicate Tapan Banerjee said that the minister should ponder as to why we cannot provide bus service on September 19 and 20.
If the transport minster proves that the logic,which we have forwarded to him can be negated with counter logic,let him do that. We will accept it. Simply saying that the fares cant be raised doesnt have any logic, Banerjee said,adding that if there was no fare hike,operators will have to opt for other alternatives.
Like in foreign countries,we will have to run buses alternatively with odd and even registration numbers. Overseas they do it to reduce pollution. Here,we will do it for survival, Banerjee said. He also accused the government of meting out step-motherly treatment to them. The 500 state buses get a subsidy of Rs 700 crore. Why cant the government give us a little relief so that we can also provide service with a smile, he said.
He said that bus operators met the transport minister several times in the past to discuss the issue,the last being on September 2 and apprised him their difficulty.
Authorities of Bengal Bus Syndicate said they wanted Chief Minister Mamata Banerje to intervene as the transport minister was unable to take any decision.
We had written to the CM,but there was no reply. We sent a reminder yesterday. If we dont get an assurance,we will be forced to participate in the strike, said Dipak Kanti Sarkar of Bengal Bus Syndicate.
Mini-bus associations too have decided to join the strike. It is not only diesel prices that have risen. Prices of a lot of ancillary products too have seen a rise.
A strike is inevitable if the government doesnt think of the welfare of the service providers, said Abashesh Daw,general secretary,Mini Bus Operators Coordination Committee.