Private bus operators in Kerala have decided to go on an indefinite strike from Friday, demanding a further increase in bus fares, saying the hike announced by the state government was "insufficient".
The Kerala government had announced the hike in government and private bus fares. It will come into effect from March 1.
Representatives of the private bus associations in the state met in Kochi on Thursday and said that private buses across the state will keep off the road from Friday, as part of an indefinite strike, seeking further increase in fares.
"We are disappointed with the announcement on the fare hike. It is insufficient to meet even our daily needs," a private bus operator said. The decision to go on a strike was taken in view of the spiralling fuel prices and operational costs, leaders of private bus operators' federation said.
They also alleged that many of the demands made by the bus operators, including a hike in minimum charge of students' concession, bring petrol and diesel under the GST, withdrawal of increased road tax and constitution a regulatory committee, were not addressed by the state government.
The minimum charge should be increased to Rs 10 and there should be a 50 per cent hike in students concession, the federation said.
According to the charges announced by the government, the minimum fare for an ordinary bus service will be Rs 8, up from Rs 7, and for fast passenger services, the fare will be Rs 11 instead of Rs 10.
Along with the minimum fare, charges per km for all category of services have also been raised. The hike ranges between eight paise and Rs 6.
Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan took the decision at a Cabinet meeting held in Thiruvananthapuram on Wednesday. Meanwhile, transport minister AK Saseendran has appealed to the private operators to withdraw their decision to go on a strike.
(With PTI inputs)