Rashmi Ranjan

Normal life in several parts of Odisha including the Twin Cities of Cuttack and Bhubaneswar was affected with the commencement of two-day nationwide strike starting Monday.  The Unified forum of central trade unions is observing two-day long Bharat Bandh protesting several govt policies.

Vehicular movement and public transportation in many parts of the State were affected in the early hours of the day as agitators were seen picketing in key junctions of National and State highways. 

Besides, rail movement on several routes was also hit as protestors staged 'rail roko' at Bhubaneswar and Berhampur railway stations.

“The bandh has brought the normal life to stand still in Berhampur. We have made the buses to stay off roads and staged rail roko. All shops and business establishments have remained shut in the city. We are opposing the privatisation of banks and the anti people policies by the Central government,” said an agitator in Berhampur.

In Bhubaneswar, many passengers were seen stranded at several bus junctions while some auto-rickshaw drivers forcibly stopped 'Mo Bus' in Patia square.

"If auto-rickshaws are not allowed to be on roads, why was operation of Mo Bus permitted?" the protestors asked.

Meanwhile, the Petroleum Dealers' Union has said that it has decided not to take part in the two-day Bharat Bandh.

“Fuel filling stations in Bhubaneswar were shut down due to picketing. However, petrol pump stations in other parts of Odisha are open. On the second day of the shutdown tomorrow, all petrol pumps will remain open,” said the union.

Earlier in the day, people in large numbers along with auto drivers in Bhubaneswar were seen making a bee line outside the petrol pumps in the city. The daily commuters expressed displeasure over the closure of the filling station in view of the bandh.

“We have been standing in queue for hours to fill CNG in our auto rickshaws. But, the petrol pumps remained closed. We were not aware about the closure of the petrol pumps. The bandh will affect our livelihood as this our only source of income,” said an auto rickshaw driver.

Meanwhile, all exams scheduled to be held today at Ravenshaw University have been postponed in the wake of Bharat Bandh.

Earlier on Sunday, the authorities of Utkal University and Rama Devi Women's University in Bhubaneswar had announced the postponement of all exams scheduled to be held on March 28 and 29 in view of the two-day nationwide strike.