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India back on track after a day's strike

Life was back on track across India today after a day-long crippling strike called by the opposition against rising food and fuel prices cost the economy millions of dollars.

delhi Updated: Jul 06, 2010 17:04 IST

Life was back on track across India on Tuesday after a day-long crippling strike called by the opposition against rising food and fuel prices cost the economy millions of dollars.

Shops, businesses and industries reopened, the usual traffic returned to roads and highways, while educational institutions and offices saw normal attendance in all parts of the country.

Flight operations were normal, an airport official here said, while the railways said it would take another 24 hours for all train services to be completely normal.

The railways had cancelled 73 trains while 192 others were disrupted. As many as 96 flights were also cancelled.

"Most trains that were halted before the final destinations started their onward journeys since late last night," an official told IANS. "In situations like these, it takes at least a day, if not more, to restore normalcy."

Airline companies said that flight operations had started turning normal since Monday evening itself and there were no delays, cancellations or diversions on Tuesday.

Life in most parts of India was derailed on Monday as the entire opposition joined hands to enforce a day-long strike, crippling many states.

The Left parties and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) were protesting the hike in fuel prices after the federal government ended curbs on petroleum pricing last month that led to transport and cooking fuels becoming dearer.

The price of diesel went up by Rs 2 a litre, kerosene by Rs 3 a litre, petrol by Rs 3.50 a litre, and cooking gas by Rs 35 per cylinder. But Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee ruled out a rollback.

Among the worst hit by the shutdown were Congress-ruled Maharashtra and Left-ruled West Bengal. The other states hit hard were Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Rajasthan, Orissa, Bihar and Kerala, all of which are ruled by non-Congress parties.

Mumbai, India's financial and movie capital, reported normal life after a day of demonstrations and disruptions that saw widespread attacks on state-run buses.

According to industry lobbies, the Indian economy took a beating of Rs 2,735 crore during the shutdown owing to work stoppage and production loss. The worst sufferer was Maharashtra.

In Mumbai, the efficient BEST buses and the city's lifeline, the electric trains, were back to their original self. "It is like any other day," said a railway official.

Added G Kadam, an autorickshaw driver from suburban Kandivli: "I am glad to be working again today."

Roads across Indian cities and towns were swarming with vehicles, creating the routine traffic jams.

In Delhi, the police detained more than 4,300 protestors and arrested an equal number Monday.

Demonstrators from the BJP had stormed into six Delhi Metro stations, disrupting its services. The authorities had deployed about 70,000 police and security personnel to keep peace in the capital.

The opposition had been protesting for months over rising prices of food and other essentials.

First Published: Jul 06, 2010 17:00 IST