Bharat Bandh in Odisha: Traffic hit as protestors block roads

Bhubaneswar: Vehicular movement in various areas of Odisha was affected today due to the 10-hour Bharat Bandh being observed by the Samyukt Kisan Morcha (SKM) from 6 am to 4 pm as the protestors staged road blockade at several junctions.

Holding placards and banners, members of the SKM staged protest on road, thereby affecting movement of vehicles. Hundreds of vehicles, especially trucks, were stranded on NH-16 in the state capital due to the blockade.

Scenes were similar in all district headquarters of the state.

The Odisha State Road Transport Corporation (OSRTC) has decided to halt bus services from 6 am to 3 pm in view of the bandh.

The Odisha unit of the Congress has supported the Bharat Bandh call by farmers’ associations. The left parties have also extended their support for the strike.

The Odisha government has asked its employees of major offices in Bhubaneswar to reach office by 9.30 am. State’s Special Secretary, Home, Santosh Bala has advised Secretaries of all departments to ask their officers and employees working at the Lok Seva Bhawan, Kharavela Bhawan, Rajiv Bhawan and the heads of departments to reach office at least by 9.30 a.m. on the day of the protest to facilitate their smooth entry.

This direction was issued as the government apprehended that the protestors may stop vehicular and rail traffic, close down business establishments, and picket government offices, banks and educational institutions.

As a precautionary measure, the front gates of the Lok Seva Bhawan (State Secretariat) will be closed at 10.15 a.m. on that day and all the passage will be regulated through rear gates. However, the connecting gate between the Red Building and Main Lok Seva Bhawan will remain open, Bala said.

The government has restricted entry of visitors to these above office buildings on the strike day. Persons having prior appointment and have urgent meetings will be given entry passes on the recommendations of the department concerned by the Special Secretary, Home. The visitors will leave immediately after the meeting, she said.

All the employees have been advised to remain in their seats and attend to their duties without undue movement.

The agitated farmers are demanding the repeal of the three farm laws passed by Parliament last year and have expressed apprehension that they would pave the way for the dismantling of the minimum support price system, leaving them at the mercy of big corporate houses.

The government has maintained that the new laws will provide farmers with better opportunities. It has also accused the opposition parties of misleading farmers.

(With IANS inputs)

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