Millions hit as buses, taxis stay off road across India

Kolkata/New Delhi/Chandigarh/Thiruvanthapuram, April 30: Millions of commuters across India were left stranded on Thursday as buses and taxis did not ply to protest a proposed law that makes punishment for traffic violations much more stringent.

Passengers had to wait endlessly at railway stations in various cities as public transport went off the road. People were forced to trudge with heavy luggage and office-goers too were hit hard.

The strike was part of the tionwide agitation by major trade unions demanding repeal of the Road Transport and Safety Bill, 2014, and alleged anti-worker policies of the Bharatiya Jata Party (BJP)-led central government.

The protest is against the hefty pelties that are proposed in the new bill such as Rs.50,000 for rash driving, Rs.10,000 for drunken driving and up to Rs.6,000 for over-speeding. The bill is to be put before the cabinet for approval.

The bill also proposes a regulatory authority, not only to advise the central and state governments on road safety, but also have the powers to ensure that the norms laid down are followed by all stake-holders.

Transporters say the pelties, along with the proposed norms on testing of vehicles, road-worthiness, licensing, among others, are too stringent.

The ministry of road transport and highways however says this is necessary so as to reduce road accidents by at least 200,000 over the next five years, as opposed to some 490,000 accidents each year - 25 percent of them fatal in ture. The stir had a partial impact in Delhi, where comparatively few autorickshaws and taxis were on the roads. There were few buses running and each was jam-packed, leading to crowds at each bus stop.

An office-goer in south Delhi said he saw just one DTC bus - going in the opposite direction - and no private buses for over an hour.

State roadways, private buses and taxis did not ply across Harya, causing misery to thousands of passengers. Buses remained parked at bus stands or bus depots, and passengers were left stranded.

Auto-rickshaws and cycle-rickshaws made a fast buck from people wanting to reach their destition on time. (IANS)

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