Transport strike in Kolkata called off

Last Updated: Friday, July 24, 2009 - 23:18

Kolkata: Operators of private buses and taxis called off a strike late Friday in the eastern Indian city of Kolkata after it caused commuter chaos.

"We have decided to end the strike, thinking of the hardship of the people," union strike coordinator Swarnakamal Saha told a news agency.

The agitators withdrew their call for an indefinite strike and plan to move the apex court against the ban order.

"We are withdrawing the call for an indefinite strike. We are moving the Supreme Court against the high court order," Kolkata Metropolitan Bus and Minibus Owners Association secretary Swarnakamal Saha told reporters.

The strike, launched Friday morning, was staged by six transport unions to protest a state High Court order earlier this month to take off the roads all vehicles over 15 years old.

The court order is aimed at reducing air pollution in Kolkata, one of India`s worst polluted cities.

In the absence of private transport, state-run buses, the metro, rail and tram systems struggled Friday to cope with the flood of commuters in Kolkata, capital of the Marxist-ruled West Bengal state.

"The metro and government buses were packed," Parvati Sen, an official of the state-owned railway, said.

But many commuters in the city of 14 million were stranded and thousands of people had to walk to work. Schools and universities closed.

The more than 15,000 private buses, 37,500 taxis and 70,000 three-wheel motorised vehicles, which also went on strike, are the backbone of public transport in the city.

Under the ban, some 2,500 buses, 6,500 taxis and nearly 90 percent of three-wheel motorised vehicles will not be able to ply the roads from August 1.

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First Published: Friday, July 24, 2009 - 23:18

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