Everything is shut– shops, schools, colleges, offices and even the IT sector companies. There are no taxis or buses on the roads. The streets of Kolkata are completely deserted.
The strike has been called by eight major trade unions including the All India Trade Union Congress (AITUC) and Centre for Industrial Trade Union (CITU).
Its also backed by 40 employees associations across sectors like public sector banks and airport ground handling staff.
All Delhi flights to Kolkata have been cancelled. Delhi flights to Kochi and Thiruvanthapuram in Kerala have also been affected.
Two flights from Delhi to Port Blair and Mumbai have also been cancelled.
Airports Authority of India’s 22,000 employees are on strike between 7 am and 7 pm affecting ground handling at airports.
The Kolkata airport was the worst affected due to the strike. It wore a completely deserted look. Not a single flight landed at the airport since the morning.
Indian Airlines has been able to operate only two flights out of Kolkata since the morning whereas Kingfisher three and Jet Airways just one flight.
The streets of Kolkata are empty. The entire state of West Bengal has come to a standstill. No long distance train have left Howrah and Sealdah since Wednesday morning. Some passenger trains left Howrah and Sealdah but were blocked soon after.
And the flights to Kolkata which were supposed to depart from Delhi before 9.00 am and now stand cancelled are JetLite flight number S2 319, Kingfisher flight number IT 601, Indian Airlines flight number IC 401, Air India flight number AI 9401.
The effect of the strike is being felt more in the Left-ruled states of West Bengal, Kerala and Tripura.
Flights on passenger heavy routes like Kolkata, Trivandrum and Cochin have been affected.
Airport employees are protesting against privatisation of airports and rationalisation of employees’ pay-scales. 250 Indian Air Force personnel have been deployed at 21 airfields across the country to ensure smooth air travel.
Not a single long distance train left from Howrah or Sealdah since morning. Some passenger trains did leave in the morning but were blocked soon after they left the station.
Many long distance trains coming to Howrah from different parts of the country are still stranded as trade union activists have blocked the railway tracks.
Banking transactions across the country will also be hit with employees’ associations at all Public sector banks joining the strike, except for State Bank of India which was on strike on Monday.
The bank employees are protesting against the new economic policies of the government, especially with regards to mergers which have lead to job cuts.
Strike cripples life in West Bengal, Tripura
The 24-hour industrial strike on Wednesday paralysed the Left-ruled states of West Bengal and Tripura and affected life elsewhere in the eastern region, barring most of the North Eastern states.
Additional policemen and Rapid Action Force personnel were deployed in Kolkata to maintain law and order, though the situation was totally peaceful, Inspector General (Law and Order), Raj Kanojia said.
The protesters did not spare the IT sector in Salt Lake here from the purview of the strike. Local CPI-M MP Amitava Nandi said, “Nowhere in the country is the sector kept out of the purview of the strike.”
Train and air services were disrupted in the state, while public transport was off the roads.
The picture was also the same in Tripura, the other left-ruled state in the region with government offices, banks, public sector undertakings like ONGC and GAIL India Ltd recording no attendance.
In Bihar, five left parties called a simultaneous bandh, which severely hit banking services across the state, though offices of the state government and undertakings were largely unaffected.
Air and rail services were normal in the state.
In BJD-BJP ruled Orissa, markets and business establishments were closed, with public transport off the roads in Bhubaneswar. Cuttack and the steel city of Rourkela were, however, unaffected.
In Assam, normal life was affected in parts as hundreds of CPI, CPI(M), CPI(ML) and AISF picketers were picked up by the police for attempting to block trains and traffic on national highways.
Shops, markets and banks in Guwahati kept their shutters down. Though government offices were open, attendance was thin.
All flights between Guwahati and Kolkata were cancelled. However flights between the city and Delhi, Mumbai and Northeastern states remaining unaffected.
Sikkim, Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland and Mizoram were unaffected by the shutdown, though shops, markets and business establishments were closed in Manipur and attendance in government offices was below normal.
Today’s strike was called by Left trade unions against surging inflation, price rise and the ‘anti-people’ economic policies of the Centre.