Reported by Malay Ray
Rourkela, Mar 18:
Normal life was thrown out of gear in Rourkela due to the dawn-to-dusk bandh called by Sundargarh Adivasi Mulabasi Bachao Sangha (SAMBS) to protest the Odisha government’s decision to include several peripheral tribal villages in the proposed Rourkela Municipal Corporation (RMC).
Under the banner of SAMBS, protestors carrying sticks resorted to picketing and blocked roads at several places in the city since morning. They are not allowing persons on vehicles to cross major points.
All government establishments, including banks, were forced to close as the agitators picketed in front of the offices. Commercial establishments, including petrol pumps, remained shut since morning inconveniencing people.
Protesters blocked roads and forced shops to down their shutters at Panposh bridge, Plant site area and IDC, Kalunga area.
At around 11.10 am, a large number of protestors of SAMBS came in a procession and gathered at Hanuman Batika square, waved flags and shouted “Gali Gali mein Shor hai, Naveen Patnaik Chor hai.”
In steel township area also, all shops have remained closed. The employees of Rourkela Steel Plant (RSP) went to their duty before 6 am in morning.
Railway services, however, have not been affected by the bandh and all trains are running as usual. Emergency services like ambulances have also been exempted from the bandh.
“They are simply encroaching on our lands. The Seven-Eight area, the Civil Township, the Chhend project, Koel Nagar, Basanti Colony are all built on our land. Now, they want to make get the corporation status on our land. This is an evil move is to usurp our land,” said Biramitrapur MLA George Tirkey.
“We been on indefinite dharna since March 7 and today we have called for Rourkela bandh. Our bandh call is successful as we have been able to close all establishments, shops here,” said Lukas Barua, a protestor.
“We were told a lot of progress would happen if the Rourkela Municipality becomes a corporation. We don’t care for these goodies. We want our space. We want our land. We want to live the way we are living. We don’t want a corporation,” said a lady protester.