The dawn-to-dusk hartal called by the Left Democratic Front (LDF) demanding the resignation of Chief Minister Oommen Chandy on Wednesday was near-total in Kochi and its suburbs. The hartal affected the works of the Kochi metro rail project. The expansion work of Bharat Petroleum Corporation’s Kochi refinery was not affected as the trade unions had agreed to let the work continue at the site. Ernakulam’s IT hub, InfoPark had an attendance of around 50 per cent.
A spokesman for the IT township said around 8,000 employees came to work on schedule. InfoPark had sought police protection in view of the hartal. Attendance at the Cochin Special Economic Zone (CSEZ), where nearly 16,000 people work, was less than 50 per cent. However, all the employees were present at the office of the CSEZ administration. Only private vehicles, mostly two-wheelers, were seen on city roads in the morning hours of the hartal. No untoward incidents were reported during the hartal. Left activists tried to obstruct the road traffic at Vazhakkala and near the NGO Quarters bus stop in Kakkanad.
Kerala State Road Transport Corporation (KSRTC) cancelled its entire services from Aluva, Ernakulam, Paravoor, Perumbavoor and Piravom depots and operated less than half-a-dozen services after 6 p. m. A team of 45 tourists, who arrived here on Wednesday from Kashmir for a four-day tour of the State by the Mangala Express, had to walk to their hotel on Chittoor road. Banks, business establishments, trading houses, tea and coconut oil auction centres remained closed in the city. Attendance at Cochin Shipyard was above 66 per cent. The working of the Kochi refinery was not affected though no fuel movement was possible from the oil installations at Irumbanam. Fertilizers and Chemicals had an attendance level of 63 per cent.
The usually busy business centres like Broadway, Ernakulam market and the Mattancherry grains market remained closed. Fort Kochi walkway was near-empty largely because of the incessant rains that kept picnickers and tourists indoors.