Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Bhubaneswar, May 30:
Bus owners in Odisha have postponed their proposed statewide strike from June 5 till August 1 after the state government today conceded their primary demand for putting in place a mechanism that would ensure automatic rise and fall in bus fares after every revision in fuel prices.
“We are soon going to implement the automatic mechanism. This was a long-standing demand of the Private Bus Owners’ Association. The government is studying the recommendation of the technical advisory committee for the hike in fares against the last two price rise in diesel and I can tell you that the bus fares would be hiked,” said Transport Minister Ramesh Majhi.
The technical advisory committee meeting of Transport Department, however, has recommended a fare hike for the last time as the government hadn’t hiked ticket prices against the last two price hikes in diesel.
On their part, the Odisha Private Bus Owners’ Association stressed that the strike had only been postponed and not called off altogether.
“We had a successful meeting with the Transport Minister at his chamber today. He has promised to fulfil all our demands, including the one for an automatic mechanism. Today, we discussed the outcome of the meeting with him at our general body meeting. The bus owners agreed that the strike be postponed till August 1 to let the government implement its decision,” said Debendra Sahoo, General Secretary of the Association.
Once implemented, the mechanism will ensure automatic rise and fall in bus fares depending on the revision of fule prices without any intervention by the state government. Bus owners will not have to wait for a technical advisory committee meeting of the Transport Department to get the fare hiked in case of a hike in fuel prices.
The meeting also reached an agreement on colour coding the buses based on their transport category and display of the fare structure inside the bus.
Besides, the government also agreed to review some of its earlier decisions like enforcing GPS in buses and make changes to the rule that holds the bus owners responsible for the mistakes of drivers.
This was a long-standing demand of the Private Bus Owners’ Association of the state and the main demand in their 14-point charter of demands on which they had called for a strike starting June 5.The Association has been demanding an automatic fare regulation mechanism to be implemented in the state since April 2013.