Slogan-shouting marks protest in Madikeri city

Revival of Kodagu Meters at Ponnampet sought

Staff Correspondent

MADIKERI: A large number of workers representing various trade unions, government employees, Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited employees, farmers, agriculture labourers, among others, took out a rally here on Thursday in protest against what they termed as "anti-people" policies of the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance Government.

They said the Congress had deviated from the common minimum programme agenda. It was favouring multinational companies by ignoring the interests of the common people, they said and added that the United Progressive Alliance-led Government was toeing the line of the National Democratic Alliance Government.

They carried banners and placards and shouted slogans against the Union Government throughout the procession that ended at the Fort, housing the Deputy Commissioner's office. Movement of vehicles was affected to a large extent. Banks, the LIC and BSNL offices functioned with minimum attendances as many employees took part in the strike.

Peter Lobo, I.R. Pramod, Vasant Kumar Hosmani, Bharat, Veeraswamy, Kuttappan, Neeraja Holla, G.G. Nayak, Chandramohan, leaders representing various trade unions, who led the procession, urged the Union Government to recover taxes that were due to it from large companies and the rich. The Government should restore the earlier policy of retirement as it existed before 2004.

The Government should bring in comprehensive land reforms and lands should be distributed among the Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe groups. Investments in the agriculture sector should be increased.

The moves to privatise telecommunication and defence production sectors should be scrapped, they said. At the same time, the efforts to increase foreign direct investment in banking and insurance sectors should be given up.

The leaders said the Government should enact legislation to provide social and service security to the unorganised workers and restore their rights to strike. Scrapping the contract system, increasing employment opportunities in the government sectors, constitution of the sixth wage board for government employees, stopping moves to privatise public sector banks and airports were some of the other demands that were put forth by the workers. As far as Kodagu is concerned, they said the defunct Kodagu Meters unit at Ponnampet should be revived and the services of anganwadi workers confirmed.

Farmers had suffered because of excessive rainfall causing loss to crops such as coffee, pepper and cardamom. The Government should ensure a remunerative price to them. Loans taken by farmers should be waived along with interest, based on the recent statement of the Union Agriculture Minister, Sharad Pawar.

The participating unions included the DYFI, the CITU, the All India Bank Employees Association, the All India Kisan Sabha, the Karnataka Prantha Raitha Sangha, the Kodagu Construction Workers Union, the Kodagu General Workers Union, the Anganwadi Association, the Government Employees Federation, the Insurance Corporation Employees Union and the BSNL Employees Union.

Leaders addressed the members at the Fort. A memorandum was handed over to the district administration later.

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