People lack transport options, govt not to take steps if employees are late: Mamata

(Eds: Adds fresh inputs) Kolkata, Jun 3 (PTI) West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Wednesday said no action will be taken against state government employees if they reach late to their workplaces, since office-goers are facing a difficult time in commuting because of inadequate transport facilities.

As the suburban trains and Metro Railway did not resume operations owing to lockdown measures, people lack transport options, she said.

'Since transport facilities are not adequate at present, state government employees will not be marked if they reach office late,' she told reporters.

State government offices will start functioning from June 8 with 70 per cent strength on a day on a rotation basis and employees will have to attend duty at least three days a week, and not five.

According to an order issued by the personnel and administrative reforms department, 'All concerned officials in the departments are hereby directed to attend office at least three days in a week' from June 8.

The transport facilities were being slowly activated and it will take some time for the situation to normalise, the chief minister said adding that government buses are out in large numbers.

The chief minister said that the transport department, in consultation with the finance department, is formulating an insurance scheme for its employees and officers in case they contract coronavirus infection.

All officers and drivers working at the state secretariat 'Nabanna' have been tested for Covid-19 after two drivers have been found to be corona positive, she said.

Owing to this, the state secretariat building will be sanitised on Thursday and Friday, she said.

Meanwhile, commuters continued to suffer for the third day on Wednesday owing to lack of public transport as most private buses stayed off the roads over demands for a fare hike and government buses proved to be too few compared to demand.

Many private offices and establishments had started functioning from Monday.

Passengers were seen waiting at bus stops for hours to board a bus during morning and evening rush hours, but government buses which came were full to their seating capacity from the starting point.

Transport minister Suvendu Adhikary had earlier said the number of government buses will increase soon.

An organization of private bus owners, the Joint Council of Bus Syndicates said that the transport department is yet to come up with any plan for revising fares in view of a cap on the number of passengers a bus can carry.

The transport department formed a regulatory committee on Monday to look into the demands for raising fares.

Around 6,500 private buses ply in the city during normal times, Joint Council general secretary Tapan Banerjee said, adding that these carry 85 per cent of commuters in the city.

Some bus owners owing allegiance to another body - All Bengal Bus Minibus Samannoy Samity (coordination committee) brought out several buses in a few routes in the city and the suburbs.

'We have brought out buses in some routes on an experimental basis, but we are looking at the government to decide on a fare hike so that the business remains viable,' its general secretary Rahul Chatterjee said.

The state transport department has on Wednesday allowed ferry services in 29 routes in addition to nine routes in which vessels have been plying across River Hooghly since June 1. PTI AMR/SCH NN NN