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Transporters breathe fire

Calcutta, Sept. 1: Transport operators today said they felt “insulted” at the way the committee set up by the government to look into their grievances against enhanced taxes was compiling its final report.

The transporters, who had withdrawn vehicles from the road on August 26, also warned the government of fresh agitation if their demands were not met.

The panel formed by transport minister Subhas Chakraborty to look into the operators’ grievances relating to increased motor vehicles taxes, other levies and police “excesses”, met this morning. Representatives of 22 transport bodies submitted their memoranda at the meeting.

Chakraborty had set up the committee after the operators threatened a three-day statewide strike from August 26. The operators had called off their agitation after a day’s strike following requests from the minister and an assurance that their grievances would be looked into. The government had put on hold the increase in levies till the expert committee submitted its report.

Convener of the committee and joint secretary of the transport department Prashant submitted a report to transport secretary H.P. Roy along with the committee’s “views and recommendations” this evening. The government will make a final announcement on September 10.

“In all, 67 issues were raised by the operators. My report is a summary of their submissions and certain recommendations. I can assure you that no issue has been neglected,” said Prashant.

But representatives of the transport operators said they felt “insulted” as the convener compiled the report without taking them into confidence.

“What is the use of a committee where we as members are denied the knowledge of the contents of the final report. We feel insulted. Ultimately, it turned out to be a one-man committee. Including representatives from transport operators’ bodies in the panel was an eyewash,” said Swarnakamal Saha, the president of the Bengal Bus Syndicate.

Prashant said it was not “possible” to show the final report to the transporters because it was compiled after the meeting.

Road rage

Residents of Bukultala in West Midnapore, about 130 km from Calcutta, set ablaze a government-owned Ambassador after it hit a cyclist and his pillion rider.

Shib Shankar Manna, 20, died on the spot.

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