Calcutta, July 25 (PTI): Most taxis went off the roads throughout West Bengal on Wednesday to protest against the state government's decision not to hike fares and alleged police excess on operators.
Bimal Guha, the general secretary of the Bengal Taxi Association, which called the state-wide strike, said the government should hike taxi and bus fares to cope with the situation arising out of a steep hike in diesel prices.
”Instead of a 48-hour strike which we had called initially, we observed a 24-hour taxi strike on Wednesday because of the Ramzan month,” Guha said.
He, however, threatened to go for a 48-hour or 72-hour strike by the end of August or early September, if their demands were not met by that time.
Transport Minister Madan Mitra, however, ruled out any increase in taxi or bus fares and claimed that despite the strike, many taxis had plied.
The government deployed additional buses for the benefit of passengers, he said.
”Passengers were not inconvenienced as additional buses were put on roads from both Howrah and Sealdah, besides taxis operated by the Progressive Taximen's Union, Calcutta Taxi Association and Calcutta Metropolitan Taxi Drivers' Union,” he claimed.
The minister said he had received several complaints regarding use of force by the striking union and the administration would act on these.
Most of the private buses in the state would likely remain off the roads on July 31 as talks between the state government and different transport unions to avert the impasse have failed.
Minibus operators, however, would not be party to the strike on the day.