Bandh cripples life in India's Silicon Valley

Last Updated 05 July 2010, 11:13 IST

With private and public transport service, including autos, taxis, state-run buses keeping off roads, thousands of people had a harrowing time in commuting across the city even for emergency work.

Ambulances, police vehicles and a few two-wheelers and cars were the visible exceptions on some city roads.

Hundreds of passengers arriving in Bangalore by inter and intra-state buses, trains and flights during the day were stranded since morning in the absence of any mode of transport.

Those who had the privilege of being picked up by their relatives and friends were lucky to get away from arrival points to their destination in quick time, as the city’s thoroughfares and arterial roads were free from an otherwise choc-a-bloc traffic and air/noise pollution.

"A bustling city has come to a grinding halt on the first working day of the week. The worst thing is even tea or snack shops on roads sides or cross junctions are shut, depriving us of a cup of tea. We are waiting for dusk to have something when the bandh gets over," Krishna Venkatappa, a bachelor techie living in downtown, told reporters.

About 1,200 passengers, who landed by 15 flights since morning, were made to cool their heels at the Bangalore international airport near Devanahalli, about 40 km from the city point, with taxis and the state-run Volvo buses not operating till 6 p.m.

"We are caught unawares here. Though we were aware of the shutdown when we took off from New Delhi by the morning flight (Air India), we thought we will be able to reach the city by Volvo bus, which is operated by the state-run BMTC. But that is not to be. After waiting four hours, I have called up my friend to pick me up," Bharat Kumar, a sales representative with a private firm, said on phone.

The impact of the shutdown was worse at the three main railway stations across the city, where hundreds of passengers arriving by different trains were stranded in the absence of any transport mode.

And those who had to catch trains departing from the main city station, Cantonment or Yeshvantpur stations in north Bangalore had a tough time in reaching on tim.

"We had a tough time reaching Cantonment to board Sheshadri Express to Kakinada in Andhra coast. We had no idea that there would be no transport to the station today when we reserved by this train three weeks ago. When we saw some state-run buses plying around 9 a.m., we thought they will operate to reach the station. Whey they were suspended suddenly after 10 a.m., we couldn’t get an auto or taxi. Luckily, a friend of us ferried us in time to catch the train. Thank god, at least trains are running," said a relieved M. Sangeetha, a teacher, who was going to his home town for a function.
Infosys, Wipro, TCS (Tata Consulting Services), IBM, Microsoft, Accenture, Texas Instruments, HP and other IT and biotech firms declared holiday for thousands of their employees, as many of them depend on contract buses for commutation.

"As a precaution, we have given off Monday to our employees working in the Bangalore campus. They will compensate by working on Saturday (July 10)," Infosys chief executive Krish Gopalakrishnan told reporters.

The global software major, however, made arrangements for employees working on essential projects and business process outsourcing (BPO) services to work during the day.

Similarly, Wipro, which has two software development parks in the electronics city and on the city’s outskirts, declared a holiday, directing its employees to report for duty July 10 in lieu of Monday.

"We declared a holiday for our employees in view of the shutdown. They have been asked to work July 10 though it’s a weekend," Wipro executive vice-president Suresh Senapaty said.

(Published 05 July 2010, 11:02 IST)

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