On a day schools and colleges reopened and many government offices started functioning with greater strength, a number of buses stopped plying in the city fearing crackdown on unfit vehicles.
Several bus owners said they were forced to pull their buses off the road as they did not have the money to repair the vehicles.
The state transport department has found that at least 1,464 buses that ply in and around Kolkata do not have a valid certificate of fitness.
The number of public vehicles in Kolkata without a valid certificate of fitness is 10,818. According to the list, accessed by this newspaper, the public vehicles in and around Kolkata with lapsed fitness certificates include 1,464 buses, 6,776 taxis and 2,578 autorickshaws.
Sources in the transport department said the list was prepared based on records at the regional transport offices (RTOs) in Beltala, Behala, Kasba and Salt Lake.
Sources said the list might have been shared with the city police with details of the vehicles’ registration numbers so that the vehicles can be spotted and prosecuted.
The fine for a vehicle found plying without a valid fitness certificate has recently been doubled from Rs 5,000 to Rs 10,000.
Since February 1, the police have prosecuted 118 buses after the drivers failed to produce documents.
The Telegraph spoke to several bus owners who said the steep jump in fines prompted them to withdraw their vehicles.
At least four mini buses on the New Barrackpore-Howrah route, which do not have valid fitness certificates, did not ply on Thursday.
Four buses each were pulled off from routes 235 (Amtala to Salt Lake) and 78 (Raja Dinendra Street to Barrackpore).
Of the 50 buses that ply on route 78/1 (Rahara to Wellington), seven were off the road. So were two buses on route 214 (New Barrackpore to Babughat).
“Given the losses incurred in the last two years because of the pandemic, it is impossible to spend so much on repairs. Since there is so much crackdown, we have no option but to withdraw our buses,” said a bus owner.
An owner has to pay the government Rs 800 to renew the fitness certificate.
But to get the clearance, the owner has to paint the bus and refill the brake and engine oil.
“Everything included, the expense is no less than Rs 30,000-Rs 35,000. I cannot afford that now. So it is better to take these buses off the road,” said another owner.
The consequence of the withdrawal of the buses was evident across the city. The bus stops were crowded almost throughout the day and the buses that did ply were all packed.