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Pool car strike hits schools

Students had a tough time reaching school and some institutions recorded poor attendance on Wednesday because of the school bus and pool car strike.

Parents had to make special arrangements to pick up their children from school.

“My son had a unit test today. The marks will be added to the final, so he could not miss it. I had to ask my cook to stay back while I went to collect him from school. My father-in-law is an asthma patient and my mother-in-law has recently undergone cataract operation. I couldn’t have left them home alone,” said Tollygunge resident Ruplekha Ghosh, whose son Samriddho is a student at St. James’ School, where unit tests were held on Wednesday.

Examinations were also held at Birla High School for Boys and Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan.

Garden High School and South Point High School had, on the other hand, deferred examinations scheduled for Wednesday.

Both the Apeejay schools, at Park Street and Salt Lake, recorded low attendance with only 40 per cent of children turning up. Turnout was poor in the senior section of Mahadevi Birla World Academy as well. No classes were held at DPS, Ruby Park, Megacity and New Town, and The Heritage School.

The strike called by the West Bengal Contract Carriage Owners’ and Operators Association to protest a string of government decisions kept over 3,500 buses and pool cars ferrying schoolchildren and office-goers off the road.

Transport minister Madan Mitra met pool car operators on Wednesday and promised to look into their chief grievance — a curb on permit that allows a pool car to operate only in one district.

“If the law allows, buses should be able to travel to three districts, including the one where it is registered. This will allow buses registered in South 24-Parganas or North 24-Parganas to ferry students to Calcutta or Salt Lake, where many schools are located,” he said.

“We are satisfied with the assurances but the government has asked us to attend another meeting next Tuesday,” said Himadri Ganguly, the general secretary of the pool car operators’ association.