Bengal govt hikes bus, taxi fares; operators call off strike
Kolkata: The Bengal government has given its nod to increase bus fare by Re 1 for every 4 km, following the steep hike in diesel price initiated by the Centre.
The state government had to take the decision of increasing the fare considering the situation of the private transport sector as the BJP government at the Centre failed miserably to bring down the cost of diesel. The bus fare has been increased in the state after a span of four years.
Apologising to the people of Bengal for being "compelled" to take the decision of increasing the bus fare, Suvendu Adhikari, the state Transport minister, said: "Despite unwillingness, the pro-people Bengal government had to give its nod to increase bus fare due to the indifferent attitude of the Centre that has led to a steep hike in diesel price. There would also be a minimum increase in taxi fare and water transport. The amount of increase in the fare of the taxi would be informed soon."
He also added that the fares of all diesel-driven vehicles would go up by a minimum amount. Since the cost of operating state-run buses has also gone up with the increase in diesel price, its fare would also be increased at the same rate.
It may be mentioned that the decision came after a meeting with Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee at Nabanna where state Transport minister Suvendu Adhikari, Additional Chief Secretary of the department Alapan Bandyopadhyay and representatives of bus owners and operators' associations were present. There was a detailed discussion on the present situation in the context of the increase in the prices of diesel and petrol.
After the meeting, Adhikari announced the hike in bus fare and stated it to be an outcome of the anti-people moves of the Centre.
He said: "It has not become possible to increase the fare as proposed by the associations. But we have done whatever was possible for us."
He recollected that as the Railway minister Mamata Banerjee had ensured an increase in the income of the Railways without any hike in train fare. "But at present, the anti-people policies of the BJP-led government in the Centre have left no other way out apart from increasing the fare. We were hopeful that the fuel prices will do down after repeated requests. But after a steep hike, there was a drop in the prices by only one or two paise. This is nothing but a mockery of the democracy."
It may be mentioned that with the increase of Re 1 in bus fare for every 4 km, the minimum fare of a private bus would now be Rs 7, while it would be Rs 8 for mini-buses.
The bus operators have withdrawn the proposed strike on June 7.