Mrunal Manmay Dash

Sambalpur: The Kendupatra Karmachari Sangha (OKKS) of Odisha on Wednesday hit streets as a mark of protest against the government's decision to abolish GST from Kendu leaf and closing down of Kendu Leaf Range offices, sections and Phadis in the Western region of the state.

The association also demanded social security for the Kendu leaf pluckers and seasonal workers apart from salary hike for the OKSS workers.

The road blockade at Birsa Munda square in Sambalpur that began at around 10 AM on Wednesday spread like a wildfire sparking demonstration across several western districts. Hundreds of vehicles remained stranded on roads at various places in Bolangir, Deogarh, Bargarh, Jharsuguda, Nuapada, Sonepur, Boudh and Sundargarh for several hours causing lot of inconvenience to commuters apart from affecting business.

OKKS President Bijaya Mohanty said the government has taken a decision to abolish 24 Kendu leaf Range Offices besides more than 50 Kendu Leaf sections and around 500 Kendu Leaf Phadis under the range offices.

“If the government doesn’t roll back its decision, 13 lakh strong OKKS employees will storm the streets in the State capital,” added Mohanty.

“With the abolition of the Range Offices, around 2,000 seasonal workers including supervisors, checkers, head- checkers, circle-checkers and section watchers will lose their livelihood, Moreover, thousands of Kendu leaf pluckers under the 24 Kendu leaf range offices will also lose their employment” he said.

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