Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Bhubaneswar, Mar 31
The 12-hour dawn-to-dusk Odisha bandh called by the Bidyut Upabhokta Mahasangh and supported by all opposition political parties, labour unions and civil societies demanding immediate roll-back of the power tariff hike announced earlier this month and CAG audit of the accounts of power distribution companies (discoms), began in the state this morning.
In the state capital, the protesters staged a demonstration near the Red Cross Bhawan demanding roll back of power tariff hike and CAG audit into the massive financial irregularities in the three discoms.
In the Unit-1 area, Capital Police arrested 10 workers and leaders of Samajwadi Party while the agitators shut down the Reliance Fresh outlet in the IRC village area of the city.
The Mahasangh has announced peaceful picketing, demonstrations and rallies in front of all block offices, sub divisional headquarters, district headquarters, electricity offices, State Secretariat and State Assembly.
It has also requested the Private Bus Owners to stop plying buses during the bandh.
The Mahasangh, however, has asked its members to spare essential services like ambulance, hospital and health services, fire brigade, water supply and milk supply in the state from the bandh.
All opposition political parties, including the Congress, BJP, CPM, Samajwadi Party, Trinamool Congress, RJD, CPI (ML) have extended their support to the bandh call of the Mahasangh.
Besides, the Indian National Trade Union Congress (INTUC) and other trade union bodies and all Bar Associations have also supported the bandh.
Talking to the media yesterday, president of the Mahasangh, Panchanan Kanungo said how the state government, which revoked the licence of the three discoms—Wesco, Nesco and Southco—managed by the Reliance Infra, had decided to accept their plea for hike in power tariff.
He also said the Odisha Electricity Regulatory Commission (OERC) and the state government must explain why they have decided to put the power tariff burden on the consumers instead of collecting the power dues of thousands of crores from these three discoms.
Seeking clarifications from the state government why it had decided to purchase power from the independent power producers (IPPs) and other power producing units at a higher price, Kanungo alleged that the OERC has increased the power tariff at the instance of the state government.