The soothing notes of Tagore numbers rang out as usual at traffic stops. However, on Thursday the songs that are usually drowned out by the ceaseless drone of traffic could be heard loud and clear. Such was the scene at the city’s sunshine sector on a crippling Thursday.
Unlike regular weekdays, the crowded city roads were almost empty, with just a handful of people leaving home. “I got on a state bus and it took just 20 minutes to get to here today, whereas it takes almost an hour or so to reach Exide crossing from Sinthi on any other day,” said a daily commuter.
Sufficient government buses carrying a few passengers were seen on city roads; however, cabs were off the roads as the 72-hour taxi strike began from Thursday. Auto rickshaw services were frequent on different routes in the city.
Airport services were normal; passengers reached the airport on Wednesday night to avoid the transport hassle on Thursday. However, the South Eastern and Eastern Railway services were disrupted. Squatters at Katwa, Baidyabati, Bhadreshwar.
Metro services in the city were normal and ran as per schedule though the rakes were almost empty. “On weekdays we have to vie for a seat, but today almost all the seats are empty,” said a daily Metro commuter.
Teachers had been told to attend or face a pay cut, and a group from Behala faced problems while reaching schools. “We get only one bus from Behala to Budge Budge, and there weren’t any today. The traffic police asked us to call the control room and then a bus from Thakurpukur was sent for us,” says a teacher.
Chief minister Mamata Banerjee oversaw the situation at Hazra crossing. Sporadic incidents of violence took place in different parts of the city.
Sector 5 was desolate through the day, without the usual hustle and bustle in the area. “The attendance in the IT sector was approximately 65%. While the attendance at IT concerns was 50%, the BPOs were better off at 75%. Many concerns allowed their employees to work from home, while others allowed their work force to take a day off and report on Saturday instead,” Kalyan Kar, vice-president of Sector V industries forum, told HT.
“Air India combined two Agartala flights, and two Mumbai-bound flights. A Bhubaneshwar-bound flight was canceled due to poor load,” an Air India spokesperson told HT. The overall passenger flow at the domestic and international terminals was at least 30% less than any given day.