Normalcy affected in Odisha due to Bharat Bandh

The daily life of the residents at different parts of Odisha, including Bhubaneswar, Rourkela, Rayagada, and Gunupur, saw disruption as members of various trade unions staged road blockade.

Vehicular movement was disrupted as trade unions, holding banners and placards, blocked various roads in demand for the expansion of the National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA). They demanded to expand the current framework to provide 200 days of work a year in rural areas at enhanced wages and also extend the employment guarantee to urban areas.

The strike had support from the Odisha state wing of the Indian National Congress (INC) as well as the All India Kisan Sangharsh Coordination Committee (AIKSCC). The emergency services have been excluded from the ambit of the bandh. The joint platform of Central Trade Unions (CTUs) comprising of Indian National 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), Trade Union Coordination Centre (TUCC), Self-Employed Women’s Association (SEWA), All India Central Council of Trade Unions (AICCTU), Labour Progressive Federation (LPF), and United Trade Union Congress (UTUC) joined the protest.

The vehicles bound for Bhubaneswar were blocked at Acharya Vihar square resulting in the stranding of hundreds of vehicles on both sides of the road due to the blockades. The entry point of RBI (Reserve Bank of India) regional office was also blocked with simultaneous shouting of slogans against the central government. Protesters demanded the Centre to withdraw all “anti-farmer” laws, “anti-worker” labour codes, and privatisation of the public sector including the financial sector.

“We demand the government to withdraw all anti-farmer laws and anti-worker labour codes and stop privatisation of public sector including the financial sector and stop corporatisation of government-run manufacturing and service entities like railways, ordinance factories, ports etc,” said a protester.

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