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Ruckus Over Drivers’ Strike

Bhubaneswar: With drivers’ strike entered into second day, Opposition BJP and Congress members on Thursday created a ruckus in the State Legislative Assembly over the issue. The House witnessed several adjournments in the pre-lunch session.

A large number of bus, truck and taxi drivers under the banner of Driver Ekata Manch are on an indefinite ‘quit steering’ strike across the State including Bhubaneswar since Wednesday.

The agitating drivers have been demanding pension after 60 years of age, death benefits, life insurance, social security, parking and toilet facility.

Raising the drivers’ strike issue during the zero hour, Congress Legislative Party leader Narasingha Mishra said transport services have come to a standstill across the state due to the protest of the drivers.

They are not an organized body and earn Rs 6,000 to Rs 15,000 per month, which is insufficient to run a family. The government should listen to them and address their problems, he said.  

Instead of addressing the issues of the agitating drivers, the government is trying to provoke another faction and disrupt the strike, he said.

Shri Mishra urged the Speaker to direct the government to resolve their issues.

As the Speaker did not give any ruling, the members of the BJP and Congress stormed into the well of the Assembly and created a ruckus demanding early solution to their issues.

As a noisy situation prevailed in the House, Speaker Bikram Keshari Arukha adjourned the proceedings and called for an all-party meeting.

Later, Leader of Opposition Jayanarayan Mishra said, “Drivers have been protesting day and night for their rights since yesterday, but the government is silent. This is an important issue.”

He demanded that the Minister Transport should furnish a reply in the House.

After hearing to the opposition members, the Speaker gave a ruling asking Commerce and Transport Minister Tukuni Sahu to hold discussion with agitating drivers and make a statement in the House tomorrow.

Meanwhile, Union Education Minister Dharmendra Pradhan urged Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik to consider the demands of the drivers’ association and take immediate measures.

“Driver friends have an important role to play in society. They are not untouchables in society. They are among us. The State Government is not coming out with necessary solutions by initiating proper discussion with them. It is not a good sign for democracy,” he tweeted.

Meanwhile, few places of the State are facing shortage of essential commodities as the vehicles are stuck in roads due to the protest. Balasore is facing an acute shortage of fuel as petrol tankers were not allowed to enter the city due to the ongoing agitations. 

The prices of vegetables, fruits and some other essential commodities have started rising due to the protest.