Shutdown hits normal life in Andhra Pradesh

June 6th, 2008 - 12:07 pm ICT by IANS  

Hyderabad, June 6 (IANS) The day-long shutdown in Andhra Pradesh called by opposition parties to protest the steep hike in fuel prices affected normal life Friday, with transport services being paralysed and businesses forced to down shutters. The main opposition Telugu Desam Party (TDP), Communist Party of India (CPI) and the Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) had called the state-wide strike.

Telangana Rashtra Samiti (TRS), which is fighting for separate statehood to Telangana, also called for the shutdown in the region. The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is holding a rail blockade to protest the hike.

Protesters laid siege to bus stations and depots of the state-owned Andhra Pradesh Road Transport Corporation (APSRTC) in all 23 districts early morning and did not allow the buses to come out. TRS activists also damaged a few buses in Medak and Nizamabad districts.

Few of the APSRTC buses were seen plying in the state capital or other major towns. The state-owned corporation has a fleet of 20,000 buses, which carry 10 million passengers daily.

In Khammam, Left activists damaged a few buses. Sit-in protests were also staged on major highways, bringing vehicular traffic to a halt.

Meanwhile an indefinite strike by taxi drivers and private bus operators in the state entered the second day, while a section of auto rickshaw drivers joined the strike to demand fare hikes.

For the second day, over 25,000 cabs and private buses remained off the roads, badly hitting the information technology companies and call centres and people wanting to reach airports or railway stations.

With few APSRTC buses plying, air passengers to and from the state capital here had an especially tough time, as the new airport is located 35 km from the city centre.

The IT companies hire cabs to provide pick and drop facilities to about 150,000 employees. The employees had used buses to reach their offices Thursday. With the shutdown paralysing bus services, some IT companies declared a holiday Friday.

The Greater Hyderabad Cabs and Bus Operators’ Association (GHCBOA) has called the indefinite strike to protest against the government decision to impose 12.5 percent VAT.

A section of auto-rickshaw drivers also launched the indefinite strike demanding hike in the minimum fare from Rs.9 to Rs. 17 per km, following the hike in petrol prices. Nearly half of the 60,000 auto rickshaws here went off the roads.

TDP and BJP activists sat on railway tracks at Nampally and Secunderabad railway stations, delaying the departure of a few trains. Holding party flags, they raised slogans against the government. The police arrested about 100 protesters and cleared the tracks.

Shops and business establishments remained closed. A few shops that had opened were forced to down shutters by the protesters. Universities postponed entrance tests in view of the shutdown.

The strike was almost total in the state capital, Visakhapatnam, Vijayawada, Guntur, Kakinada, Tirupati, Nizamabad, Karimnagar, Medak and other towns.

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