On August 26, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee had urged people to keep their shops open and take out their vehicles on the day of bandh after assuring them that compensation will be given by the state government if any damage is caused.
The state transport department led by its minister Suvendu Adhikari had plunged into the work from the same day to ensure that no vehicles remained stranded on Friday apprehending damage as it had always happened on the days of a strike in Bengal.
Since Friday morning, the entire team comprising the transport minister, principal secretary of the department Alapan Bandyopadhyay and other senior officials were present in Paribahan Bhavan monitoring the situation. The control had become functional from 6 am on Friday and it continued monitoring till 10 am. Adhikari, who was also in Paribahan Bhavan from 7.15 am said: “The control room kept monitoring the situation till 10 pm as it is our duty to ensure proper transport facility for commuters to return home safely after their day’s work”.
Unlike all the previous days of bandh in the state, on Friday there was no scarcity of any types of vehicles on road. Students were able to go to school as pool cars plied and there was hardly any bandh supporter to restrict the vehicles from taking children to school following elaborate police arrangements.
According to Adhikari: “People used to be afraid while coming out of their houses on a day of bandh mainly because they didn’t have the confidence of getting buses or any other public transport to reach their destinations. Thus, our main target was to ensure plying of sufficient number of buses, trams and steamers today (Friday).”
Around 2,300 state-run buses were on the road since morning. Usually1,800 buses ply every day. A total of 99 trams, that is 19 more than the any other day, plied since the morning and 45 steamers ferried thousands of passengers across river Hooghly in between Sagar to Babughat.
Not only the state run vehicles but also the private players in transport sector came forward in thwarting the bandh that leads to loss of crore of rupees. The state transport minister held meetings with private bus, minibus, trucks, oil tankers and taxi operators asking them to ply their vehicles without apprehending any trouble.
Simultaneously, steps were taken to bring vehicles under insurance policy of National Insurance worth Rs 1 lakh for minor damages and policy worth Rs 7 lakh of a private insurance for any major damage. Till the last report received, the day passed off almost peacefully and there was not a single claim for insurance. Windscreens of two state-run buses were damaged and being state-run buses they will automatically get the claim.
“The insurance policy had given a boost to the private transport operators and they plied their vehicles,” said Adhikari.