|Chakka bandh from today, set to hit city bus services|
Staff Reporter/City Correspondent
GUWAHATI, Oct 4 - The indefinite ‘chakka bandh’ called by the All Assam Motor Transport Association (AAMTA) from Monday on various demands is likely hit public transport across the State. It is set to affect the city bus services here, too, as the majority of the private city buses are affiliated to the association. In view of the strike, the ASTC will ply 650 buses across State tomorrow. The Corporation would ensure that privately owned under-ASTC buses will also ply from tomorrow. ASTC chairman Ashok Kumar Bhattarai said that all necessary arrangements have been made in this regard.
The transport department has called for a discussion with the association on Tuesday, urging the association to call off the bandh. The association, however, refused to call it off, though it agreed to sit with the officials on Tuesday.
“We will call off the strike as soon as our demands are met,” AAMTA secretary general Pradip Das said. The transporters have demanded increase in bus fares, waiver of quarter tax and road tax reduction up to 50 per cent. The State government feels the demands of the striking groups are not reasonable.
A senior official of the transport department said the transporters are demanding doubling of the fares, but “no other state has done it. Moreover, it will have a severe impact on the common people who have already borne the brunt of the lockdown.” He said the validity of all the vehicle documents, including permits, which had expired during the lockdown, have been extended to December, “which itself is a huge relief to the transporters.”
“The Central government on Friday also told the Supreme Court that it has decided to ‘waive interest’ on loans of up to Rs 2 crore during the six-month moratorium period. Loans taken by individuals for educational, housing, consumer goods and auto loans and for credit card dues can also avail the benefit. This is also a relief to the transporters,” the official pointed out.
The official further cited that if any commercial vehicle was not used for commercial purposes during the lockdown, they could have applied for waiver of the tax during that period. “There is a provision for it. The transporters could have availed the benefit. There cannot be a blanket exemption of quarter tax,” he said.