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Rashmi Ranjan

Hundreds of members of the Odisha Drivers' Association launched an overnight protest at Master Canteen square in Bhubaneswar since Sunday demanding fulfillment of several demands including security and insurance cover for death due to accidents.

The protestors alleged that though their association had organised a massive rally in the State capital a few months back and submitted a memorandum to the government for fulfillment of their demands, their pleas fell into the deaf ears.

The association members have threatened to intensify their protest if their demands are not met at the earliest.

"Drivers from 314 blocks in 30 districts have joined the protest today. We will continue our protest until our 11-point charter of demands are fulfilled," said a protestor.

Echoing the similar opinion, another driver said, "The government has been deceiving us by making false promises. We have been providing uninterrupted service across the State. But, no one is concerned about us. We will not move out of the city until our demands are met."

"Our demands are minimal like security and insurance for the drivers. But, the government is not paying any heed to our demands," rued another agitating driver.

Bus services and vehicular movement have been disrupted across several routes in Twin Cities of Cuttack and Bhubaneswar as the protestors staged road blockade from AG Square to Lower PMG square. However, they later withdrew their strike following discussions with the police.

Meanwhile, Odisha transport minister Padmanabha Behera said the discussion with the protestors is fruitful and necessary steps will be taken to fulfill their demands.

"Discussion with the association is fruitful. We will assess what steps have been taken by other state governments for their drivers. Special teams have been formed for the purpose, and as per their observations, necessary steps will be taken within three months," said Odisha Transport Minister Padmanabha Behera.

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