Long before private transport operators could raise the demand for a hike in fares, in view of the rise in the prices of petrol and diesel, transport minister Subhas Chakraborty on Monday volunteered to announce that the government was planning to increase them.
A decision will be taken on this count after consulting the various operators’ lobbies in the next few days, Chakraborty said at Writers’ Buildings.
He hinted that the fare of state government buses and other modes of transport operated by it will also be increased once the state government decided to raise the fare of privately-operated transport.
“The cost of diesel has risen by Rs 1.50 per litre. Private transport operators will have to bear the additional burden and I feel it may not be possible for them to bear the extra cost,” Chakraborty said. “But we will not succumb to any pressure from the transport lobby for increasing the fare. We ourselves will take the decision after consulting the operators,” he added.
Chakraborty’s statement, even before any demands were raised, stunned many in political circles. Asked whether the envisaged transport fare rise will affect daily commuters and the people, Chakraborty said: “I don’t think so. Both state and Central government employees are getting dearness allowance that is increasing almost every year. They should not face any problem in paying transport fares, even if they are increased. Our government is very considerate and it will not increase the fare in a way that might create a problem for the common man,” the minister added.
The last time the state government had increased transport fares was in November 2002. The transport lobby had raised the demand following a rise in fuel prices. The state government had imposed a cess of Re 1 on petrol and diesel even in the face of stiff opposition.