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Private bus owners call for strike from March 14

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Bhubaneswar: The private bus operators of the State on Monday threatened to go on strike from March 14 protesting the Government’s apathetic attitude towards problems of the passenger vehicle owners.

At an emergency meeting of the general body of All Odisha Bus Owners’ Association, chaired by president Prakash Mishra, the operators said the Government has failed to keep its promise despite assurances.

The private bus owners have been demanding exemption from tax at the toll plazas on the grounds that, if collected, it would be passed on to the passengers. “If the State Government does not want the burden of hiked ticket fare to be passed on to passengers, it must exempt private operators from paying toll and dole out the same from its sources,” spokesman of the association Debashis Nayak said.

A major grievance of the association is, Government extending the scope of City bus service to semi-urban and rural areas which they claim is affecting their business. Since the City Bus service is meant for urban areas, plying the buses beyond city limits is unethical.In the last meeting, the association had demanded a rollback of hike in motor vehicle taxes. Nayak said the Government has assured to consider the demand but only paid lip service.

The bus owners association has also demanded that the State Government must take the operators into confidence before chalking up new routes and issuing permits. It has also sought a special fare for routes which are in hilly and difficult terrains.

Crackdown against illegal operators and reduction in insurance premium are other demands of the private bus operators. Nayak said, the association had met the Transport Minister in October last year in this connection but no solution has been provided even now. If this state of affairs continues, the bus operators will go off road from March 14 indefinitely, the body threatened.

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