Odisha govt says will resolve drivers' demands in time bound manner

NewsDrum Desk
16 Mar 2023

Bhubaneswar, Mar 16 (PTI) With normal life across the state hit by a strike by drivers, Odisha government Thursday gave a written assurance to agitators that it would resolve their demands within three months.

The assurance was given by chief secretary PK Jena at a meeting held at 7 PM in the Conference hall with office-bearers and senior members of the Drivers’ Ekata Mahasangha (Unity grand alliance) here, an official release said.

Over 2 lakh drivers launched a strike across Odisha from Wednesday for an indefinite period demanding social security, including pension after 60 years, accident benefits, and formation of a welfare fund.

“The government will consider the demands of drivers with sympathy and try to resolve them within three months,” Jena said in a video message. He also hoped that the agitating drivers on their part will take a positive decision.

However, the Mahasangha has not issued any statement on its response or next course of action.

“We attended the meeting as representatives of the Mahasangha. We will put the state government’s written assurance in state executive body of the Mahasangha and announce out decision in few hours,” Babulal Tripathy, the leader of the delegation that met the chief secretary said.

Buses remained off the roads and good carriages and cabs on Thursday remained stranded at various locations in Odisha on the second day of the ‘quit steering’ strike called by Drivers’ Ekta Mahasangha.

The striking drivers gathered on national highways and state expressways and stopped vehicles inconveniencing commuters.

The drivers’ strike also had its echo in the Odisha Assembly which witnessed back-to-back six adjournments and remained paralysed till 4 pm due to the ruckus by opposition BJP and Congress members over the issue.

People bore the brunt with commuters, including tourists, waiting at bus stops, skyrocketing of prices of vegetables and fruits, and non-availability of fuel at filling stations.

The issue was raised in the Assembly by Congress Legislature Party leader Narasingha Mishra who expressed support to the striking drivers who have been demanding social security and other amenities like parking and toilet facilities along the roads.

Mishra sought a ruling from Speaker B K Arukha to resolve the issue.

Opposition BJP members also supported the Congress demand and trooped into the well of the House. The lone CPI(M) MLA, Laxman Munda, also joined the BJP and Congress legislators.

Unable to run the House, the Speaker adjourned the proceedings six times during which an all-party meeting was convened.

Normalcy returned to the House after the Speaker in a ruling, following the all-party meeting, asked Transport minister Tukuni Sahu to hold a meeting with the striking drivers and make a statement in the Assembly on Friday. PTI AAM MM JRC JRC

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