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Ramakanta Biswas

With the private transport dominating the road passenger sector in Odisha, the All Odisha Private Bus Owners' Association on Tuesday gave an ultimatum to the State government to slash the rising diesel prices or else the private bus services will be halted for an indefinite period from November 16. 

The association said the bus operators in the State are already in neck-deep losses due to high fuel prices and other commodities. Unless any support is forthcoming from the government, it will be hard on their part to continue the services.

The association held its General Council meeting today. Speaking to media after the meeting, the association secretary Debendra Sahu said, "At present, 60 per cent of buses are operational, while the remaining 40 per cent are still off roads. Earlier we had urged the government to sanction Rs 1 lakh loan to each bus owner so that they can resume the bus services. But the government did not consider our demand." 

"We urge the government to reduce the price of diesel as well as the fare rate to ease the burden on the commuters. This will also help in running the bus services smoothly. The State government has to decide on our demands by November 15. If our demands are not met, we have no option but to halt bus services from November 16," Sahu informed.  

Notably, about 14,000 private buses had been operating in the State connecting different cities. However, the bus operations remained affected due to lockdown and shutdown in view of the Covid-19 pandemic. Though the restrictions have been eased, the bus operators are yet to resume fully, owing to financial problems.

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