Bandh hits farmers as onions rot
As many as 25 farmers from Bijapur, Haveri, and Chitradurga districts at the Agricultural Produce Marketing Committee (APMC) yard in Yeshwantpur were at the receiving end of the Bharat bandh on Thursday.
“It is the season of onions and potatoes. We had stocked the produce at our agricultural fields and at storage facilities in the taluk waiting for a good price. We brought the produce to Yeshwantpur in the City, as we heard that a quintal of onions was being sold at Rs 1,000. Sadly, now the prices have been slashed to Rs 400 in the wake of the Bharat bandh and Gowri-Ganesha festival. The prices will be reduced further by the weekend, as the produce brought to the yard is more,” said Gurappa Yaranal, a farmer from Bijapur.
M S Khori, a 55-year-old farmer from Kakandaki village in Basavana Bagewadi taluk in Bijapur district, was sitting with 200 bags (each having 50 kg) of onions at the yard.
Only a few tonnes
“I came from Bijapur to the City to sell onions to traders on Wednesday morning. I was able to sell only a few tonnes on the festival day and Thursday being the bandh day, there were no takers. Since onions perish fast, I will have to incur a huge loss as there is no business on Friday,” he said.
Jayaprakash, a member of Onion and Potato Traders’ Association at the APMC said 400 lorry loads of onions and potatoes have arrived at the market, which includes yields from Maharashtra and 300 more lorries are expected on Friday. Sharanappa from Chitradurga said he hoped that there were no more bandhs in the future. “There are rumours that a few associations were calling for a bandh in a few days over the Cauvery water sharing issue. If that happened we will be forced to distribute our produce for free and go home empty handed,” he said.
Since the All India Motor Transport Congress (AIMTC) has extended full support to the bandh, there was no supply of vegetables and other essentials to markets in the City. “There used to be at least 400 vehicles taking rice, pulses and vegetables to KR Market, KR Puram and other areas. The bandh has badly hit movement of vehicles,” said a member of AIMTC.
Members of the Karnataka Rakshana Vedike (T A Narayan Gowda faction) blocked the Chennai Express at the City railway station and Yeshwantpur railway station to protest against the Prime Minister directing the State government to release 9,000 cusecs of water from Cauvery river.
Another group of activists stopped Samparka Kranthi Express at Yeshwantpur around 12.30 pm. KRV faction has convened a meeting of pro-Kannada organisations, farmers and thinkers at a hotel in Majestic at 2 pm on Friday to decide the future course of action regarding sharing of Cauvery water.
Vidhana Soudha, Vikas Soudha and MS Building wore a deserted look on Thursday due to the bandh call. None of the ministers, including Chief Minister Jagadish Shettar, turned up at their offices. The m ajority of employees could not reach their work place in the absence public transport.
Schools, colleges and offices remained closed and most Bangaloreans preferred to stay home. Travellers to the City and local commuters were, however, stranded because public transport vehicles stayed off the roads. By 8 am, the Karnataka State Road Transport Corporation (KSRTC) and the Bangalore Metropolitan Transport Corporation (BMTC) stopped plying buses as a precaution. The services resumed only by around 6 pm.
Long-distance commuters who arrived in the City by train also found themselves with no means of reaching other towns. Abdul Jabbar, who arrived at the City Railway Station with a 14-member team of construction workers from Assam, was unaware that buses had stopped operating in the City. “We want to go to Attibele and from there to our workplace. But there are no buses or private vehicles,” he said.
Ramesh Kumar, who arrived from Chitradurga on Thursday, was unable to find a government bus to take him to Madanapalli in Chittoor district, Andhra Pradesh.
When Deccan Herald caught up with him at 3 pm at the KSRTC bus station in Majestic, he expressed disgust at waiting for transport which never seemed to come. Passengers seeking to travel around the City were equally inconvenienced. Sudarshini R, a private bank employee, explained that apart from buses, even autorickshaws seemed to be observing bandh.
“I wanted to get a bus to Banashankari. I have waited since 9 am but there have been no buses. The pre-paid autorickshaw stand was shut down. The few autorickshaws available were overcharging. By late afternoon, I managed to call a friend who dropped me home. It was 3 pm by then,” she said.
Bowing to public pressure by 3 pm, BMTC officials finally allowed several buses to ply along main routes such as Koramangala, ITPL, KR Puram and Vijayanagar. By 6 pm, City and KSRTC bus services had been largely restored.
Few takers for Metro
Trains of Namma Metro, especially those operating between MG Road and Baiyappanahalli, largely escaped the bandh. However, few commuters used the Metro on Thursday. BMRCL spokesperson B L Yashwant Chauhan said that the number of passengers on Thursday was 50 per cent less than on normal days.