The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Two-day bus strike from March 24

Calcutta, March 17: Private bus operators will go on a two-day strike from March 24 demanding a hike in fares following the recent increase in fuel prices.

But the two-day strike called by the operators was a climbdown from their earlier threat of taking off buses indefinitely from Saturday. There were indications in the evening that the Bengal Bus Syndicate had got a signal from the government that their demands will be looked into.

The decision to go ahead with the strike was taken at a meeting of the executive committee of the bus syndicate, said its president Swarnakamal Saha.

“The state government has not announced any hike in fares,” Saha said. “Neither did the government call a meeting with the transport operators after the Centre increased the prices of diesel and petrol.” He also demanded a rollback of the cess on diesel and petrol.

Four other transport bodies — the Howrah Bus Syndicate, the Inter-intra Region Bus Association, the Minibus Operators’ Co-ordination Committee and the North 24-Parganas Bus Operators’ Associations — have decided to join the two-day strike.

The private bus operators met at Saha’s Lenin Sarani office today and expressed solidarity with the Bengal Bus Syndicate.

Saha demanded that the minimum fare in private and mini buses be raised to Rs 4 from the existing Rs 2.

Private bus operators met transport minister Subhas Chakraborty on March 13 when the minister assured them he would consider their fare-hike demands. Chakraborty later told reporters that the bus operators would not be able to run their vehicles because of the rise in fuel prices.

CPM sources said the party did not take kindly to Chakraborty for agreeing to the hike even before the operators had made such a demand.

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