BHUBANESWAR: Whose property is Mahatma Gandhi Marg anyway? Has it been handed over to agitators and protesters? Or do city commuters have a right on it? As on Saturday, the major road completed a month of shutdown as it remained under siege of protestors and out of bounds for the rest.
The stretch that connects Station Square to State Legislative Assembly on Sachivalaya Marg is dotted with residential quarters of Ministers, Government functionaries and important people has been declared as the venue for demonstrations and agitations, greenlighting the blatant shutdown of the area.
This has led to strong public resentment and rightly so. By which order has it been used as a dharna place and signage erected? There is no clear answer as all agencies pass the buck to the other.
“The road belongs to R&B. We have no control over it as we look after the sanitation part,” said BMC Deputy Commissioner Srimanta Mishra. In the past, the BMC tried to impose a fee on protesting outfits for littering in the area but gave up as it did not yield result.
In 2005-06, in pursuance to a PIL filed in Orissa High Court seeking shifting of the venue, the State Government had said it was in search of an alternative land to shift the venue. However, no such land has been finalised so far.
Ironically, the Government has not only declared the site as protest ground but also put up a signage on the stretch. Protesters have been given demarcated space on one side of the road but the road continues to be occupied and blocked every time the State Assembly is in session.
Police Commissioner Satyajit Mohanty said agitating outfits are given licence because the area has been declared a protest zone. The road is blocked during agitations to maintain law and order, he added.
The lawlessness on the city stretch, however, doesn’t end here. As the road remains blocked most of the time throughout the year, the police and civic authorities have allowed city buses as well as motor traffic to operate through the service roads causing serious inconvenience to residents of the area.