Activists belonging to the district unit of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) blocked the National Highway 66 at Kallianpur-Santhekatte for some time to protest against the hike in travel fares of private buses on Friday.

CPI(M) leader Dogu Suvarna said the hike was totally unjustified and would affect the common man. He expressed surprise at the silence of the district administration on the unilateral hike in the bus fares announced by the private bus owners.

H. Vittal Poojary, another CPI(M) leader, criticised the bus owners for setting a bad precedent by announcing fare hike unilaterally. “In the past the matter used to be first discussed at a meeting of the Regional Transport Authority (RTA). The RTA used to announce the hike after taking the views of all the parties – the bus owners and consumers – into consideration and arriving at a consensus,” he said.

Hitting out at bus owners for using fuel price hike as a pretext for raising the ticket price, he said the increase in the prices of petrol and diesel had also led to an increase in the prices of all essential commodities. Workers of the private buses such as bus drivers, conductors and cleaners are also hit hard by the hike in the prices of the essential commodities. But the bus owners have not increased the salaries of their employees. Nor did they provide facilities such as provident fund, ESI, gratuity, and pension, Mr. Poojary said.

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