Rourkela, Nov 30:
The twelve-hour Rourkela bandh called by the Joint Action Committee (JAC) on the demand for setting up of an Employees’ State Insurance Corporation (ESIC) Medical College and Hospital at Rourkela evoked near total response with streets in the Steel City wearing a deserted look on Saturday.
While schools, colleges, shops, petrol pumps, banks and insurance companies’ offices remained closed, buses and auto rickshaws stayed off roads. Government offices in Uditnagar area were closed down by the picketing members of Rourkela Bar Association (RBA).
An effigy of Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik was also burnt by student leaders under leadership of Pradeep Satpathy and Supratik Mishra along with others present at Basanti Colony area.
Though the bandh call did not have much effect on production at the Rourkela Steel Plant (RSP), it did have an impact on many small and medium scale industries at Kalunga and Kuanrmunda. While trucks supposed to enter RSP were stranded on the Ring Road for hours, rail services too were affected for an hour due to picketing by protestors at the Rourkela railway Station.
Most non-BJD political parties like CPM, CPI, BJP, Congress, KKD, SUCI and Aama Odisha and trade unions like CITU, INTUC, AITUC, BMS, UTUC joined the bandh. Rourkela Chamber of Commerce, Rourkela Bar Association, various market committees, Contractor workers’ union, Sundargarh Motor Karmachari Union, Rourkela Hawkers’ association and many social organisations of the cityalso supported the bandh call.
Bandh supporters were seen picketing at Bisra Chowk, Ambagan Chowk, Chhend Chowk, Uditnagar, Panposh Chowk, Fertiliser and Vedavyas Chowk.
“The overwhelming response to today’s bandh shows that if the government does not consider the demand of the citizens of Rourkela, there would be massive movement on the issue in the coming days”, said JAC convener and senior advocate Muralidhar Parija.
According to police, 10 platoons force were deployed in different parts of the city to avoid any untoward incident, but the bandh passed off peacefully. Many bandh supporters were detained while picketing and were later released, said police.