People keep off the road; thin attendance in government and private offices

The dawn-to-dusk hartal ordered by the Left Democratic Front against the Kasturirangan report on Western Ghat conservation froze normal life in the district on Monday.

One unconfirmed report said that a vehicle of Sabarimala devotees was stoned at Kakkanad.

Educational institutions and shops remained shut and majority of chairs were vacant at government offices, hampering their function.

Private buses, autorickshaws, and taxis stayed off the road. Cars and bikes cooled their wheels at homes for most part of the day, and hit the streets towards the fag end of hartal.

The Kochi Metro Rail work at major project sites was halted in their tracks. The project was launched about five months ago and countdown set in motion with a consensus that work would progress unhampered.

Only 44 out of the 74 offices at the civil station worked and only 37 out of the 164 employees at the district collectorate reported for duty. District Collector P.I. Sheikh Pareeth and Additional District Magistrate B. Ramachandran were present.

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About 55 per cent of the workforce at the IT hub logged in from office. And many others opted to work from home, keeping the projects on track. Conveyance for employees was arranged in convoy from Palarivattom in the morning.

Kerala State Road Transport Corporation (KSRTC) kept off the road except three services bound for Pampa. The functioning of the Cochin International Airport at Nedumbassery was not affected. The airport-based pre-paid taxis operated in large numbers, sparing arriving passengers of trouble.

Police were deployed for maintaining law and order. They were called in to transport a dialysis patient from his home at Kaloor to Lakeshore Hospital.

Cochin Port Trust reported an employee turnout of 55 per cent. While operations within the port were unaffected, the export-import community suffered as inward and out-bound truck movements came to a standstill. Container movement was severely hit at the International Container Transhipment Terminal at Vallarpadam. It's operator DP World said the hartal would send out a wrong message to shippers about the unpredictable disruption of services.

The work at the expansion site of Kochi Refineries Limited was largely unaffected as about 900 contract staff turned up for duty defying the hartal call. It was business as usual except for the product movement on tankers.

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