Snarls tie capital in knots

Commuters hit as rallies choke traffic

By Our Correspondent
  • Published 12.09.18
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GASPING FOR BREATH: Choc-a-block traffic at Master Canetten Square as arterial roads remained congested due to rallies and dharna in Bhubaneswar on Tuesday. Picture by Ashwinee Pati

Bhubaneswar: Protests by 11 organisations brought traffic to a standstill in several parts of the city as commuters had a harrowing time to reach their destinations on Tuesday.

The designated dharna site at Mahatma Gandhi Marg was chock-a-block with thousands of demonstrators taking out rallies. Traffic came to a standstill following demonstrations by the organizations, including the ABVP - the students' wing of the RSS - that took out a mega rally to protest against various issues related to higher education system in the state.

Hundreds of anganwadi workers have been protesting at Mahatma Gandhi Square since last week to demand fulfilment of their demands, including a minimum wage of Rs 18,000 per month, a minimum pension of Rs 3,000 per month and implementation of the 45th and 46th recommendations of the Indian Labour Conference.

While around a dozen organisations, mostly of teachers, have been staging a dharna at Mahatma Gandhi Marg over the past couple of weeks, leading to traffic chaos in the area, Tuesday's rallies further congested the arterial roads.

"I was on my way to the station from AG Square, but the rallies had paralysed traffic near PMG Square. I had to take a longer route as a result. But that road, too, was so jammed as most people decided on that alternative to escape the rallies. As a result, it took me around 45 minutes to reach the station. It was a nightmarish experience," said Abani Panda, a commuter.

This has been a regular occurrence in the city during every session of the Assembly and the commuters brace for turmoil when they step out on the streets. They have a harrowing time while crossing the roundabout at Master Canteen Square and roads adjoining Mahatma Gandhi Marg. The Monsoon session of the Assembly began on September 4.

Deputy commissioner of police, Bhubaneswar, Anup Kumar Sahoo said a large number of police personnel were deployed at the dharna site to maintain law and order. "Besides, several traffic personnel have been pressed into action to regulate traffic in and around the area," he said.

The ABVP staged a demonstration to demand registration of college land in the name of the colleges, quality higher education, strengthening of costal security and prevention of infiltration by Bangladesh nationals, employment for students in the state and making universities corruption free.

"The state has failed to generate employment for educated youths of the state. Similarly, allegations of corruption have surfaced from various state-run universities," said ABVP national secretary Avilash Panda.