Odisha: Protest against Hike in Electricity Charges

30 April 2015
MORE THAN 50 CPI(ML) Red Star activists were arrested and detained at the Reserve Police Barrack in Bhubaneswar for protesting against power tariff hike on March 31. The Odisha Bidyut Upabhokta Mahasangha (Odisha Electricity Consumers Forum or OECF) called an All-Odisha Hartal on March 31 against the power tariff hike – 20 paise per unit for all consumers and 40 paise per unit for the agricultural sector –an order passed by the Odisha Electricity Regulatory Commission, and demanding immediate rollback of the order. Supporting the hartal called by the OECF, the CPI(ML) state unit led a militant protest against the tariff hike which is likely to affect over 56 lakh power consumers in the state including farmers and small and medium enterprises. On March 31, the day of the hartal, Bhubaneswar Area Committee members, led by Secretary Com Chintamani Moharana and Party State Committee members Com Pramila and Com Bijaya Barik started a rally from its office and gheraoed Reliance Fresh as symbolic protest against the nexus between the Navin Pattanaik government and Reliance Company. From 8am to 11am the mega shopping mall remained totally gheraoed by protestors and completed closed. Then the protestors marched more than 5 kilometres, shouting slogans, distributing leaflets, etc. Reaching the Odisha Electricity Regulatory Commission office, the protestors continued their agitation and tried to forcibly enter the office. There was a vigorous tussle with the massive police force deployed on the spot and more than 50 protestors of CPI(ML) Red Star were arrested and taken to the Reserve Police barracks Protestors from other parties and organizations supporting the hartal were also arrested and detained there. Party State Executive Committee member Com Rebati Ballav Mohantywas also arrested in front of the State Assembly along with other protesters. The militant hartal was a sure sign of more vigorous agitations to come if there is no rollback in the tariff hike.
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