The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Bus strike threat to schools
- Subhas convenes last-ditch meet, refuses to bow to major demands

Children may find it tough to reach school and their parents their offices from Tuesday, as the largest lobby of chartered buses, the West Bengal Contract Carriage Owners and Operators’ Association, has threatened to go on an indefinite strike.

Representatives of the association — with over 1,200 buses in its fold — will attend a meeting convened by transport minister Subhas Chakraborty on Monday in a last-ditch effort to realise their demands.

Chakraborty said he was not going to concede their demands. “Their demands are unrealistic and cannot be considered at all. If they want to go on strike, they are free to do so. I am not going to give in,” Chakraborty told Metro on Sunday. The government has decided to waive only the additional road tax of Rs 1,000 on school buses, but indicated on Sunday that it will not consider several other demands.

In the wake of the recent petroleum price hike, the association has held several unsuccessful meetings with Chakraborty on its demands along with some private bus operators’ lobbies “The minister never gave us much hope during talks. If the talks fail to yield any results tomorrow, we will be left with no other option but to go on an indefinite strike from Tuesday,” said Himadri Ganguly, association general secretary.

He said though the association has submitted its demands to the government, nothing has been done so far. Its other major demands are:

4Decrease the road permit fee that was hiked from Rs 2,136 to Rs 10,500 recently

4Abolish annual road tax amounting to Rs 13,000

With the minister refusing to climb down, the strike is likely to affect thousands of Calcuttans.

The transport minister took particular exception to the demand for disallowing private cars to carry children to school. “It (the association) has asked me to stop people from ferrying children to school in their own vehicles. Is that realistic'” exclaimed Chakraborty.

In Calcutta, private car-owners conduct brisk business by letting cars out for schoolchildren. “Car pools are increasing by the day, which is unethical. The government should curb this practice,” Ganguly said.

Whatever be the outcome of Monday’s meeting, Calcuttans are prepared to face the worst from Tuesday. “This is sudden. My son’s bus-driver has asked him to go on his own from Tuesday,” said Raja Sen of Garia. Aloke Choudhury of Ballygunge has decided to drop his son to school in Park Circus.

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