Kolkata: In a relief to commuters before Durga Puja festival, private bus operators in West Bengal today put off their proposed indefinite bus strike over fare hike following discussions with Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee.
Sadhan Das, general secretary of Joint Council of Bus Syndicate, a leading bus operators association, said the proposed bus strike was being deferred from tomorrow till Lakshmi Puja on October 29 following their discussion with the chief minister and the state government seeking more time.
"We were told that that since we had waited for so long we should wait till Lakshmi puja since the festival season is approaching. Hence we are not going ahead with our decision for a bus strike from tomorrow," he said.
There was, however, no official word about any assurance given to the bus operators regarding an imminent bus fare hike.
With the state government remaining firm on not increasing transport fares, bus unions had decided to call the strike from tomorrow.
State transport minister Madan Mitra was also present at the meeting.
Mitra, who is also leader of Bengal Bus Syndicate, said the state government was thinking of alternate plans to boost their income.
The transport operators had earlier ruled out the state government's 'alternate plans', including allowing advertisements on private vehicles to boost their income.
According to Das, 50 per cent of the private buses, which form the backbone of the transport system for the city and its suburbs, have gone off the road as the owners were finding it difficult to run vehicles at the existing fares in the wake of hike in diesel prices.
Mitra held a separate meeting with representatives of Bengal Taxi Association (BTA) which too had threatened to go on strike.
BTA leader Bimal Guha told reporters after the meeting that the minister asked the association not to go strike and had not given any assurance on taxi fare hike.
The association would meet tomorrow to take decision on its line of action.