Transport minister Subhas Chakraborty on Wednesday turned the heat on pool cars, saying that if they did not abide by the government’s guidelines, his department would run buses to and from the schools to ferry children.
“If parents or the school authorities ask me, I will make arrangements to run buses to transport the children. But under no circumstances will the government compromise with the code laid down for car pool associations. Parents now pay Rs 500 a month to the pool car-owners. I will scale that down to Rs 200 a month for the buses,” he said at Writers’ Buildings.
At a meeting held with members of the Car Pool Operators’ Association of West Bengal, the minister told them that he would not allow them to run cars without the required permission and also if they refused to pay taxes.
The association had earlier placed their demands before the minister, including exemption from paying taxes.
Earlier this year, the government had announced a code for car pools, but no concrete step was taken to regulate the vehicles. By the Motor Vehicles Act, 1999, cars used for commercial purposes are to pay taxes to the government. But most pool car-owners do not.
“The owners take bank loans saying they will use the car themselves. This reduces the interest rate. But later, they put it to commercial use,” the minister pointed out.
Over 4,500 pool cars had gone off the road after the public vehicles department had impounded cars a day after a pool car rammed into a stationary bus on VIP Road on December 18. Eight schoolchildren were injured. The driver was reportedly drunk and talking over a cellphone.
“We have not yet decided on calling off the strike. Talks are on with the government,” said Shantanu Saha, the general secretary of the association.