Life hit in parts of AP due to bandh over power rates hike

The state-wide bandh called by Opposition parties in Andhra Pradesh to protest the hike in power tariff evoked partial response.

Hyderabad: The state-wide bandh called by Opposition parties in Andhra Pradesh to protest the hike in power tariff evoked partial response and was by and large peaceful.

The shutdown crippled normal life in some districts while its impact was marginal in the state capital.

The bandh call was given by Left parties and supported by main Opposition Telugu Desam Party and YSR Congress, among others. BJP had given a separate call.

Public transportation in most parts of the state was affected in the morning due to participation of some of the employee unions in the strike and also due to suspension of bus services in some pockets following protests.

Government offices across the state witnessed thin attendance. Banking services were normal in Hyderabad though they were affected in other parts of the state.

Shops and business establishments downed their shutters at some places in Hyderabad, while some educational institutions in the city had already postponed their exams.

Hyderabad Range DIG Y Nagi Reddy told PTI that the bandh passed off peacefully. RTC buses kept off the road in morning hours but resumed services after 10 am. Private educational institutions remained closed in Hyderabad and neighbouring districts, he said.

Police resorted to arrests and preventive custody at many places after protesters attempted to block traffic on roads. Over 950 protesters were arrested from various places in the state capital.

Raising slogans like `the protests will continue till the power tariff hike is rolled back`, leaders and activists of Opposition parties held demonstrations in front of bus depots.

They squatted on roads in different districts across Andhra Pradesh, prompting police to arrest them.

Police took CPI State Secretary K Narayana and his CPM counterpart B V Raghavulu in preventive custody when they tried to hold protests and block movement of buses here.

"This is not the end...This is just the beginning. Until the Government rolls back the hike in power tariff various agitations will be undertaken, including march to Assembly," Narayana asserted.

Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N Kiran Kumar Reddy had
earlier announced some relief and said there was no hike in power charges for those consuming up to 200 units per month.

The Opposition, however, demanded a complete roll-back of the power tariff hike, saying people were already being burdened by "fuel surcharge adjustment" (FSA) charges.

BJP leaders and activists were taken into custody after they tried to take out a rally towards the Secretariat.

Police foiled attempts of members of Telugu Mahila -- the women`s wing of TDP, who tried to force their way into the Ministers quarters here and arrested many of them.

Telangana leaders organised a dharna at Gun Park here in support of the bandh.
AP Electricity Regulatory Commission announced a new tariff order for FY 2013-14, allowing distribution firms to levy extra tariff of Rs 6,173 crore on consumers from April 1.

Leaders of TDP, Left, YSR Congress and BJP have held fasts over the power tariff issue. YSR Congress said the Government should roll back the hike and assure the consumers that no further FSA will be collected from them for 2013-14.

Meanwhile, a report from Srikakulam said the bandh was total and peaceful in the district.

Shops remained shut during most part of the day, while RTC suspended bus services till noon. Banks and Government offices witnessed no work. All private and Government schools were closed, while roads in major towns of the district wore a deserted look, it said.

The shutdown was peaceful in Medak district, where the normal life was paralysed. Shops, movie halls, petrol pumps, commercial units, schools and colleges remained closed.

Police sources said around 318 activists of TDP, BJP, CPM, CPI, TRS and YSR Congress were detained and later released.

In Visakhapatnam, the bandh evoked good response and remained incident-free, a report received here said.

The bandh in the industrial area of Gajuwaka was total. As many as 358 protesters were taken into custody for blocking vehicular movements and released later, the report said, quoting the police.