Thiruvananthapuram: Keralites’ penchant for hartals (stoppage of work) was on display again on Monday as the nation observed a one-day workers’ strike to protest rise in fuel prices.
While normal life was not seriously hit in many states, Kerala observed a total stoppage of work, despite the state needing to work overtime for reconstruction activities following last month’s devastating floods.
Congress leader V.D. Satheesan and a few others had requested that the strike be called off in the backdrop of the flood havoc, but transport services and commercial activity were seriously hit across the state on Monday.
One exception though was a few cinemas in Kochi functioning like normal.
The strike was supported by the ruling Left Democratic Front and the Opposition United Democratic Front.
The government-owned Kerala State Road Transport Corporation buses were also off the road.
Most affected was the Kuttanad region, the low-lying area that is still struggling to come out of the flood-induced destruction of homes and farm lands. Though some leaders had said the strike would not be imposed on Kuttanad, boat services in the area were cancelled, hampering the work of cleaning and repairing homes in the area.
Volunteers have been reaching water to the flood-affected homes in Kuttanad over the past several days, but the cancellation of boat services affected the movement of volunteers.
In the state capital, Thiruvananthapuram, some Congress workers who tried to block entry to the Technopark were removed from the spot by police. In Parassala on the Kerala-Tamil Nadu border, protesters threw stones at a Tamil Nadu government-owned bus.