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Bagdogra taxis to stay off road

Several unions have called a strike demanding revision of fare
The fare was revised last in 2008.
The fare was revised last in 2008.
Telegraph file picture

Bireswar Banerjee   |   Siliguri   |   Published 12.01.21, 02:16 AM

Around 1,200 taxis which ferry passengers from Bagdogra airport will stay off the road for an indefinite period from Tuesday to demand revision of fare among others.

The Bagdogra Airport All Taxi Association (BAATA) — a joint forum of seven taxi associations, including trade unions like the Citu, Intuc and the Inttuc — has called the strike at a time tourists are pouring into the region.

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The fare was revised last in 2008.

Siraj Bhowmik, the president of the Bagdogra Taxi Owners’ Welfare Association — a constituent of the forum — said they had been demanding revision of the fare for years.

“A number of memoranda have been submitted to different quarters and on December 17 last year, we had even sent a memorandum to chief minister Mamata Banerjee through the state tourism minister. However, there has been no response. These days, it is not possible for us to run our vehicles at old rates. That is why we have decided to stop our services at the airport,” said Bhowmik.

The Siliguri Luxury Drivers’ Union extend support to the agitation and declared a one-day strike on Tuesday.

“Altogether, over 3,000 taxis will remain off the roads on Tuesday. Many other associations have extended support to us and have hinted that if there is no move from the state’s side, they would eventually join the strike,” said a BAATA representative.

Transporters claimed that around 25,000 light vehicles run in Darjeeling, Kalimpong and in some parts of the neighbouring Jalpaiguri districts.

“Altogether, the state earns around Rs 350 crore as tax from these vehicles. We believe the government should think of providing some relief to us and also come up with a revised fare chart,” said a transporter.

Those associated with the tourism sector are keeping fingers crossed. “After a long gap, tourists have started pouring into the Darjeeling hills and the Dooars. If cabs are not available at the airport and luxury taxis also go off the roads, we don’t know how to ferry tourists to a destination from Bagdogra or vice-versa,” said a tour operator of the city.

State tourism minister Gautam Deb said that the state government would surely look into the demands. “But taxi owners should refrain from taking any step that can cause inconvenience to people,” he added.



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