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Strike threat to press van fare hike

The school auto and van owners’ associations have decided to agitate from December 7 to press for their demand for fare revision owing to the restrictions on overloading.

No reply from the transport department and the district administration regarding the fare hike demand prompted the decision.

Rajkumar Jha, general secretary, Bihar State Auto Chalak Sangh, told The Telegraph: “In our last meeting with R.K. Mahajan, principal secretary, transport, on November 26, we had proposed a 40 per cent hike in the school van/auto fare. Mahajan had told us that he would hold a meeting in a day or two with the district magistrate to decide on the matter. Four days have passed but neither the transport department nor the district administration has taken any decision. We have minimised the number of students in the school vans and autos according to the district administration’s guidelines but we can’t bear losses. After all, we run business. So to draw the district administration and the transport department’s attention to our problems, we would hold an agitation on December 7.”

Jha added: “We have decided to hold a two-day strike during which 2,000 school auto and vans would be off road but the 17,310 general autos (run by our association) would also be off road apart from those belonging to other associations supporting us on this issue. Our intention is not to make parents suffer. This is the reason we have decided to hold the agitation on Sunday (December 7).”

Parents are already bearing the brunt of increased fare. Rupa Singh, project co-ordinator at Unicef whose son studies in Don Bosco Primary school, said: “My son’s school fee is only Rs 1,400, the van charge is almost double of that. This is completely ridiculous but I am helpless.”

Several fringe players have hiked the monthly fare on their own. Asked why he didn’t take approval from the transport department before hiking the fare like the Bihar State Auto Chalak Sangh, Subodh Kumar, president, Auto Men’s Union Bihar, said: “We give priority to our members and their problems and we did exactly that, unlike the other association which made things complicated by approaching the transport department.”

Sources said the decision to hike the school auto/van fare could only be done with the transport department’s permission, else, it is illegal.