C'garh: Private bus operators call off strike

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Raipur, Jul 13 (PTI) Private bus operators who had gone on strike across Chhattisgarh from Tuesday morning to press their demands of fare hike and tax waiver called off the agitation at night after holding talks with Transport Minister Mohammad Akbar, officials said here.

From Wednesday, some 12,000 private passenger buses will restart plying in the state, they said.

It will provide huge relief to commuters who were stranded in large numbers at bus stations in big cities including the state capital Raipur, Durg, Bilaspur and Rajnandgaon since morning.

Akbar met office-bearers of the Chhattisgarh Yatayat Mahasangh (CYM), an association of private bus operators, in the evening.

The state government decided to sympathetically consider their demands, and in view of the hardship faced by commuters, the CYM agreed to resume bus services, said a government release.

President of CYM Sayyad Anwar Ali claimed that the government agreed to consider their demand of hike in passenger tariffs.

Commuters, meanwhile, were seen struggling to find alternative modes of transport as buses went off the roads.

'After arriving here from Mumbai by flight, I reached the bus stand to take a bus for Bilaspur. I was unaware of the strike. I called up some taxi operators, but they asked for hefty amounts,' said one passenger.

Another person said he hired a taxi for Rs 2,000 to go to Saraipali in Mahasamund district from Raipur, while a bus ticket for this journey costs only Rs 250.

Members of the bus operators' association also staged demonstrations in various districts including Raipur.

Besides fare hike, bus operators also want the scrapping of a rule which states that owners can get exemption from the payment of tax for a maximum of two months for vehicles which are not in use.

As per the rule, enacted in 2009, an operator has to pay tax on such a vehicle after two months even if it is still not in use. PTI TKP GK KRK KRK

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