Bandh hits normal life in state

Bhubaneswar: Normal life was thrown out of gear on Wednesday in Odisha due to disruption in road and rail traffic during a two-day Bharat bandh call given by the country’s 11 registered trade unions. The unions are protesting against the “anti-people” policies of the UPA government including price rise of various essential commodities, poor implementation of labour laws and disinvestment in PSUs/increased FDI in various sectors.

In the capital city, bus services have been disrupted as unions of private bus operators extended their support to the shutdown. Trains services are also affected as members of All India United Trade Union Centre (AIUTUC) staged sit in on railway tracks at several places of the state forcing a number of trains to stop midway. Reports said, many trains could not even start from the source stations.

Hundreds of passengers were seen stranded at bus stands and railway stations for hours. The most affected were women and children.

“If they are going on a strike, we must be informed beforehand so that we would have planned otherway,” Santoshini Mishra who was waiting to catch a bus to Rourkela said.    

Venting his ire against the strikers, Manoj Patra from Balasore said, “I am taking my ailing father to home and there is no communication. How will I go? I have just left the hospital and there is nobody here in the capital to offer me a shelter?”

To make the situation worse, a section of the auto-rickshaw unions has also supported the bandh call in the city.

According to reports, the bandh scenario is no different in other major cities like Berhampur, Rourkela, Sambalpur, Puri, Balasore and Baripada where public transport system has come to a grinding halt.

To avoid any untoward situation schools, offices, business establishments and educational institutions have downed their shutter for two days.

Banking services in the state were also crippled as an estimated 12,000 officers and 30,000 other banking employees of nationlised, co-operative and gramya banks joined the bandh on Wednesday.

The unions have put forward a 10-point charter of demands such as urgent steps to control price rise, strict enforcement of labour laws in all places of work, social security net for workers in the unorganised sector and end to disinvestment in PSUs.

The United Forum of Bank Union is supporting the bandh to protest against privatisation and merger of banks.

The strike has been called jointly by the Bhartiya Majdoor Sangh (BMS), All India Trade union Congress (INTUC), All India Trade Union Congress (AITUC), Hind Mazdoor Sabha (HMS), Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU), All India United Trade Union Centre (AIUTUC) and other such organisations.