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Pupils block road to vent ire
- Vehicular movement between Keonjhar and two mining towns comes to a standstill

Keonjhar, April 26: Protesting against poor condition of the road leading to the Orissa School of Mining Engineering (OSME), students of the institute’s degree wing staged a blockade at Durpada on National Highway-215 this morning.

Vehicular movement between Keonjhar and the twin mining towns of Joda and Barbil came to a standstill for more than four hours because of the blockade.

Boycotting their classes, the students also burnt tyres and placed huge laterite stones to block the road. Hundreds of iron ore laden trucks and other vehicles were stranded on both sides of the highway for hours. Many commuters, particularly women and children, travelling in buses had to go through a harrowing time because of the road blockade.

The agitating students said the 2-km stretch of the road connecting their college with the highway had been in a bad shape for years. They are now demanding immediate renovation of the existing narrow, mud road into a motorable one.

“We have been facing a lot of problems because of the poor condition of the road. We had approached all the concerned authorities several times for renovation of the road. But our pleas fell on deaf ears. We were left with no option but to resort to an agitation so that the authorities take necessary steps to redress our grievance,” said Abhijit Maharana, who was leading the agitation.

The protest was called off after the executive engineer of the rural development department assured the agitating students that the road would be repaired within a month.

“We are pursuing the matter and the renovation work of the college road would be taken up within a month. We have also given a written assurance to the students with regard to their demand,” said the executive engineer.

The students, however, have threatened to intensify their protest if their demand is not met within a month. “If the authorities do not meet our demand within the stipulated timeframe, we will stage another protest,” said Keshab Chandra Ghadei, a student.

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