|Members of the Gaana Saathi Milita Kriyanusthan Committee protest on Janpath and (below) the consequent treaffic congestion near Master Canteen Square. Pictures by Ashwinee Pati
Bhubaneswar, Aug. 19: Traffic chaos descended on the city today as rallyists lay siege to Mahatma Gandhi Marg to draw the attention of the political leadership, who will assemble here for the monsoon session of the Assembly beginning tomorrow.
More than 8,000 activists of the Gaana Saathi Milita Kriyanusthan Committee stalled traffic on Janpath, triggering chaos in the adjoining areas for more than 90 minutes today.
Police had a tough time controlling the crowd and diverting the traffic through the various bylanes of Unit-III and Unit-II.
Rajat Lenka, an employee of a private company, said it took him about one-and-a-half hour to reach Master Canteen Square from Vani Vihar today.
The 3km stretch on Janpath is usually covered in about 10 minutes.
“Though vehicles were coming from Master Canteen side, no vehicles were allowed from the other side because of a rally. Initially, the policemen stopped the vehicles without having any idea of where to divert them. Later, they diverted the vehicles towards Exhibition Ground Road,” he said.
Office-goers and other daily commuters alleged that there was no prior information about the rallies and the traffic diversion.
“I had to drive through various internal roads that pass through the residential colonies as no vehicles were allowed on the main road because of the rally. The administration should either think of alternative routes or give us prior information about these rallies and road diversions,” said Diptee Rekha Chhotray, who had come to take her child from a school on Janpath.
Several motorists today also complained of misbehaviour by the rallyists.
“With the Assembly session going to begin from tomorrow, daily commuters will have to go through harrowing times, like the one they experienced today, on many more occasions in the coming days,” said Santosh Patra.
He alleged that the protesters had forcibly stopped his vehicle. A police officer said they had been trying to make temporary arrangements by diverting vehicles whenever required.
“We try to make things easier for people by diverting them through colony roads in the nearby areas whenever there is a rally or demonstration on the main roads,” said a traffic police officer.
The committee members, who have been appointed by the state government as leaders of labourers in every village, demanded regularisation of their job with a monthly salary of at least Rs 4,500. Besides, they demanded that job card holders should get 200 days of work every year instead of 100 days, which they are getting at present.
“We will submit our memorandum to the chief minister. We will continue our protest till our demands are met,” said Laxmidhar Biswal, state co-ordinator of the committee.
Apart from the Gaana Saathi Milita Kriyanusthan Committee, six other groups staged demonstrations on Mahatma Gandhi Marg today. United Teachers’ and Employees’ Association staged protest against Jaydev Jena, president of Odisha Pradesh Congress Committee, alleging that during his tenure as school and mass education minister, he had reduced the minimum qualification for headmasters of middle English schools.
Among others, some people staged protest demanding employment to para-teachers, while another group, consisting of teaching and non-teaching employees of 662 colleges, demanded full grant-in aid.