Over 200 protests were held by different trade unions in the city.
Most commuters complained that the few autos and taxis that agreed to ferry them asked for exorbitant fares. With most people turning to the Delhi Metro to reach their destinations, the stations remained crowded through the day.
The Delhi government said the strike had no affect on the transport sector and more than the usual number of Delhi Transport Corporation (DTC) buses were on the roads on Wednesday. But a number of bus unions, including a section of DTC employees, also extended support to the strike.
“While most of the DTC employees turned up for work, they showed their solidarity by parking their buses on the side of the roads,’’ Rampath Kasana, of Delhi Parivahan Mazdoor Sangh, said.
The Transport department has also allowed all contract carriage buses, tourist permit buses and maxi-cab buses to ply on DTC routes as a state carriage on Wednesday and Thursday. The Delhi Police also ensured necessary security arrangements at bus depots to protect the buses against vandalism and disruption.
Meanwhile, passengers at major railway stations and bus stands remained stranded or had to shell out extra to reach their destinations. Private taxi drivers at New Delhi railway station, commuters said, were over-charging them.
“Taxi driver were asking for Rs 1,000 till Nizamuddin from New Delhi railway station. This journey usually costs Rs 300,” Ajay Nambiar, who came from Kerala, said.
Radio cab operators, such as Meru, said there was a 20 per cent increase in their bookings on Wednesday.
Long queues were seen at the New Delhi Metro station. “I had to stand in queue for 30 minutes to enter the Metro station,” Aditya Bharadwaj, a student, said.
Shikha Tiwari, who works with an airline company in Connaught Place, said: “I had to stand in queue at INA Metro station for around 45 minutes. By the time I reached office, I was late by an hour.”
“There were no autos available and the taxi stand next to my house said he could only take me in an SUV as he didn’t want to be caught driving around,’’ a resident of Malviya Nagar said.
Auto and cab unions said they would continue to stay off the road on Thursday also. “We are tired of the high-handedness of the government and will continue with our strike,’’ Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh spokesperson Rajinder Soni said.
Admitting that the number of auto-rickshaws and pre-paid taxis were not adequate, Transport Minister Ramakant Goswami said there was no difficulty in commuting in the city as the number of buses were sufficient and were plying according to schedule.
“From morning, no waiting crowd was visible on DTC bus stops. A total of 5,117 DTC buses plied against an average of about 5,000 buses. The Transport department had ensured that 3,094 other buses were plying. This included mini-buses, Metro feeder buses, contract carriage buses and maxi-cabs. The 40 contract carriage buses provided free service for senior citizens and women from Dhaula Kuan,’’ Goswami said.
The Transport department deployed enforcement teams at 10 junctions to ensure that passengers did not face any problems.
Schools and hospitals were not affected due to the strike and most shops remained open.
“The school buses plied as per schedule,’’ Ameeta M Wattal, vice-chairperson National Progressive Schools Conference, said.
“None of our unions are on strike. Being a government hospital, our staff will not participate in something like this,” V S Dahiya, union president at Lady Hardinge Medical College, said.
Centre of Indian Trade Union (CITU) organised a demonstration on the busy Ram Charan Aggarwal Chowk, close to the Delhi Police headquarters at ITO.
“It was over five months ago that we sent the notice to the government saying that if our demands were not met, we would organise a two-day countrywide strike. The Prime Minister did not have time for us till now. It was only last week that the government noticed us, and even now they say they will look into our demands,” A R Sindhu, General Secretary of Anganwadi Federation and member of CITU, said.
“There is a 100 per cent strike in all the defence unions and most of the banks, insurance and transport unions of Delhi are with us,” Amarjeet Kaur, National Secretary of All India Trade Union Congress, said.
(Reporters are students of EXIMS, New Delhi)