Bhubaneswar, Feb. 20: The all-India strike by 11 trade unions protesting against the “anti-people” policies of the UPA government had people in all sorts of problems, but commuters were the worst hit with public transport keeping off the road and train services disrupted badly.
A victim of the two-day strike that began today was Abhishek Behera, an engineering student from Talcher.
Behera missed his scheduled examination at Patia as the train he took to reach the city was detained in Cuttack.
With even auto drivers joining the strike and city buses vanishing from the roads, a large number of office-goers and college students had to trudge it to their destinations.
Most long distance buses were cancelled despite an earlier promise by the All-Odisha Bus Owners’ Association to run their services. “The low turnout forced us to call off services today,” said association president Prakash Mishra. Piling on the misery of common people, petrol pumps downed shutters.
With strikers taking to the streets since morning, business establishments were forced to down shutters and several industrial establishments worked with reduced staff strength.
In the Angul-Talcher belt, while the plants run by the National Thermal Power Corporation and the blue-chip Nalco managed to function normally with slightly reduced attendance, production in Mahanadi coalfield was hit.
Sources said production came down by 10 to 20 per cent as a chunk of contract workers stayed away from work.
Reports from the area said while work suffered at GMR Energies and Bhushan Steel Limited in Dhenkanal district, it was normal at Jindal Steel and Power Limited and the Monnet power plant in Angul.
Sources said loading and unloading activities at Paradip port and Iffco and PPL fertiliser plants were affected. Work at Essar steel project and Indian Oil Corporation refinery was also hit.
With only 50 per cent employees turning up at the port today, many vessels were left stranded. Even casual labourers skipped duty. While two ships managed to sail out to the sea, two others remained berthed.
Mining and industrial activities in the mineral-rich Jajpur-Keonjhar belt came to a virtual halt with the Sukinda chromite mines bearing the brunt of the strike.
The total loss to trade and industry in the state because of the strike was estimated at Rs 400 crore by Ramesh Mohapatra, president of the Utkal Chamber of Commerce.