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Truckers' strike call may hit life in Bengal

Our Bureau

Kolkata , Aug. 25

CLOSE on the heels of a 24-hour bandh, a 72-hour state-wide strike call by goods and passenger vehicle operators' unions from August 26 is threatening to throw life out of gear in West Bengal for the second time in a week.

Speaking to reporters at the State Secretariat, the West Bengal Transport Minister, Mr Subhas Chakraborty, regretted that the unions and the associations had persisted with the strike call even at a time when so many lives had been lost in blasts elsewhere in the country.

The call has been given by 24 unions and associations to protest against increase in road taxes. Mr Chakraborty said that even after the hike, tax rates in West Bengal were among the cheapest in the country.

Tax rates for goods carriage (in terms of gross vehicle weight 16,200 kgs) in West Bengal was proposed at Rs 9,300 kgs per annum compared to Rs 13,200 in Kerala, Rs 10,200 in Tamil Nadu, Rs 9,716 in Andhra Pradesh and Rs 9,360 in Maharashtra. Mr Chakraborty said that barring Bihar, most States had higher rates of taxation for various categories of vehicles.

The State Government has taken steps to minimise the sufferings of the common people and school children by running more State buses, extending timings of the ferry service on Hooghly river. Temporary permits would also be given to enable the passenger buses to run some services, in case the strike went onto the second day.

It may be mentioned that the State is dependent on its supplies of fish, eggs and onion among other daily items from outside. Bulk cargo movement is also likely to get affected by this strike.

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