Crooked way out
Sir — The attorney-general, Soli Sorabjee, seems to be acting like the devil’s advocate by objecting to the Indian government’s decision on the release of Pakistani prisoners (“Sorabjee slams barter tactic for prisoners”, August 25). Having reached the end of its tether, India wants to act on a quid pro quo basis — to detain Pakistani prisoners who have already served their sentence till Pakistan agrees to release Indian prisoners. The move may be “legally untenable”, but Sorabjee should remember that this is the only option left to India which has long lost the easy and straight way of negotiating with a hostile neighbour.
C. Chakraborty, Calcutta
Victims speak up
Sir — The audacity of private transport operators and the indifferent attitude of the state government continue to amaze the people of West Bengal (“Transport strike on”, August 26). Most school buses had refused to ply on August 26, the day of the strike. The operators obviously did not stop to think of the unnecessary harassment they caused to thousands of students. Many of them had important examinations to appear for and precious time was lost trying to reach schools which remained open. Such matters however do not concern the corrupt government of the state which is hand-in-glove with the bus operators.
Shiv Shanker Almal, Calcutta
Sir — The transport strike was a mixed blessing. For a change, the roads were free of smoke-belching buses and a mad cacophony of horns. With autorickshaws plying and the Metro rail operating on time, travelling in Calcutta was a pleasant experience.
Sandeep Das, Calcutta
Sir — Why did the three-day transport strike in Calcutta have to be called in the first place' Why can’t the government respond to problems without being coaxed into looking at them'
T.R. Anand, Calcutta
Sir — One just had to take a look at the number of commuters on Calcutta’s roads on Tuesday to prove that the people of Bengal believe in making the most of a strike. They stayed put at their homes.
Jaya Sen, Calcutta
Sir — Losses incurred because of increased fuel prices together with the “unfairness” of the proposed rise in motor vehicles taxes had forced private transport operators to go on strike. The transport minister, Subhas Chakraborty, seemed only too willing to give in to their demands. But the fairness of these demands still remain unclear to the travelling public. The number of trips made by a vehicle per day, the average collection, the distance covered, diesel consumption and the revenue from ticket sale, the average costs of maintenance and other costs borne by the transport operators are arcane numbers which the transport ministry may have access to. But the actual profits made by the operators may not justify the blackmail they recently subjected the government to. The public should never agree to buy the arguments of bus operators unless more information is revealed to them. Bus operators definitely have a motive behind suppressing profit figures, but what is the government’s motive in doing the same'
S.K. Mukherjee, Calcutta
Sir — Constant fluctuations in fuel and oil prices give private transport operators enough reason to demand an upward revision of the price of tickets. But there should be an expert committee to see if the increase of ticket prices is commensurate with the fuel price hikes. It is a unfair to demand that passengers keep paying whatever is demanded by transport operators. Since the changes are too frequent, neither the conductor nor the passenger knows what is the exact fare for a particular distance. The state transport authorities should make it mandatory for bus operators to display a distance chart along with a fare chart. That is, the fare corresponding to the distance travelled in kilometres should be clearly specified.
B. Roychoudhury, Calcutta