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Setback for Suktel activists

Balangir, Dec. 14: The movement for the Lower Suktel Irrigation Project suffered a setback today as various transporters’ and merchants’ associations did not extend their support to the 48-hour strike call of those opposing the venture.

Beginning today, the the Lower Suktel Irrigation Project Action Committee had given the call for a 48-hour strike.

However, the Balangir Private Bus Operators’ Association, the Balangir Truck Operators’ Association and the Balangir Merchants’ Association refused to extend support to the strike. This forced the action committee to limit the bandh only to the government and banking sectors, schools, colleges and other financial institutions.

The agitators had given a total bandh call after the health of two action committee members, including president Gopaljee Panigrahi, who were on “fast onto death” deteriorated. The protester duo have since been admitted to the district headquarters hospital.

However, the bandh call had created widespread resentment among local residents. Sensing the discontent among the residents, the bus and truck operators decided not to support the bandh.

Subrat Mishra, a local resident who works in Titilagarh, said that he had no leaves left for this year.

“I have exhausted all my leaves. I would have faced lot of difficulty if buses had joined the bandh today. We face a lot of inconvenience as bandhs have become a common affair in Balangir,” he said.

The youth wing of the action committee, however, ensured that all the government and private offices remained closed today.