Tamil Nadu braces for bandh today, major services likely to be hit

Opposition parties in Tamil Nadu have called for a state-wide shutdown in support of drought-hit farmers. Several unions have lent their support for the bandh call.

Opposition parties, led by the DMK, have called for a bandh in Tamil Nadu in support of drought-hit farmers, who have temporarily suspended their agitation in New Delhi.

Even a host of trade unions, farmer bodies and even the film fraternity pledged support to the shutdown, the E Palainiswami-led state government asserted that normalcy will not be hit.

State police said it has taken several steps, including deploying additional personnel across Tamil Nadu, to ensure law and order.

Parties who have called for the bandh include the DMK, Congress, CPI(M), CPI, VCK and IUML.

SERVICES THAT COULD BE HIT

The call of bandh has received backing from trade unions affiliated to the opposition parties, farmer bodies, the film fraternity, a lorry operators association as well as unions representing local vegetable markets, groceries, and auto-drivers.

News agency PTI, quoting state government sources, reported that essential services will likely not be affected.

PTI's sources claimed that the bandh will not have any impact and that local, long-distance buses of the state-run transport corporations and trains will ply as usual. Essential services including milk and electricity supply will be normal, they said.

However, The News Minute reported that public transport is likely to be majorly affected. "In Chennai alone 73,000 autos will stay off the roads. In addition to this, 25,000 auto drivers are going to hold an agitation in Anna Salai, opposite the post office," Balasubramani, the state general secretary of the Auto Thozhilar Samvedhanam, told TNM.

TNM also reported that the bus union has confirmed that over 20,000 buses will remain unattended to on Tuesday. Lorry services will be among those affected, the report further added. "Close to 4.5 lakh lorries that carry vegetables, construction material, iron and other important materials will not function from 6am to 6pm on Tuesday," Kumaraswamy, the president of the state lorry owners' association, told TNM.

'POLITICALLY MOTIVATED'

Meanwhile, the ruling AIADMK (Amma) and the BJP have hit out at the bandh call terming it politically motivated.

On April 16, a meeting of parties including Congress, CPI(M), CPI, VCK, IUML chaired by DMK working president M K Stalin gave the bandh call.

According to DMK, the bandh is to urge the central and state governments to fulfil the demands of farmers and farm labourers which includes adequate relief and setting up of Cauvery Management Board.

Other demands include remunerative price for paddy, sugarcane, immediate disbursal of cane arrears to the farmers, increasing the water level of Mullaperiyar dam to 152 ft and cancelling Methane and Hydrocarbon projects.

Waiver of crop loans given by nationalised banks, adequate monetary compensation to farmers affected by drought are among the demands of a group who protested in Delhi and in other parts of Tamil Nadu.

(With inputs from PTI)

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