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Sep 19, 2013 at 01:38pm IST

Bengal bus strike to begin today, minister warns of strong action

As the bus operators remained firm on their two-day strike across West Bengal from Thursday, state transport minister Madan Mitra on Wednesday warned of strong action in case there was any law and order problem.

The minister accused the striking bus operators of working in close concert with the CPI(M), saying the government knew how to deal with "such goons".

"The striking bus operators are working in close coordination with the CPI(M). If they take law and order in their own hands, the government knows how to deal with such goons," Mitra warned.

Bengal bus strike to begin today, minister warns of strong action

Bengal bus strike to begin today, minister warns of strong action

The minister alleged that several threat calls had been received by the officials of the transport department.

"The state government won't succumb to the pressure of a section of bus operators under any circumstances and the question doesn't arise of a hike in bus fares immediately," he said.

Mitra said he had also asked ruling party workers to maintain a strict vigil in their areas and report to the police and the administration if there was any disruption of law and order anywhere in the state.

Admitting that there was a hike in diesel prices by a little over Rs 5 since the last hike in bus fare by Rs 1 at every stage on October 31, 2012, Mitra said that the operators also earned a lot through advertisements over the body of their vehicles without giving any tax to the Kolkata Municipal Corporation.

"The operators also do not pay at all to the KMC against parking of their vehicles. Now the time has come to collect those taxes from the bus operators if they went on with the strike," he said.

Earlier, the minister had threatened to take back permits of the vehicles joining the strike. The minister, however, said that the Bengal Bus Syndicate, the biggest bus operators' body, had confirmed to him that they were not going ahead with the proposed strike.

Taxis and auto-rickshaws would also operate in full strength.  Assuring of measures to keep transport active during the strike days, Mitra said, "Employees of all transport corporations will be kept ready in all depots from tonight to operate buses from early on Thursday."