Koraput/Bhubaneswar: Life was thrown out of gear in Koraput, Malkangiri, Rayagada and Nabarangpur districts due to the 12-hour hartal observed by the ruling BJD in protest against the Polavaram multi-purpose project on Thursday. While both government and private buses remained off the road, shops, markets, offices and educational institutions were shut.
“We oppose the Polavaram project that will affect over 100 villages and around 4,000 acre of agricultural land in Motu tehsil of Malkangiri district. Also, at a time when the state government has moved the Supreme Court in connection with the project, the Centre is sanctioning funds for the project overlooking the repercussion the project will have in Odisha,” said MP (Nabarangpur) Balabhadra Majhi at Malkangiri.
Housing and urban development minister Puspendra Singh Deo, who was leading the hartal at Nabarangpur, said, “We demand a decrease in the height of the dam from 180 ft to the original 150 ft. Also, we want scrapping of national status to the project.”
project across the Godavari at Polavaram, about 80 km from Motu in Malkangiri district.
According to sources, BJD activists blocked roads at all entry points to Jeypore and Rayagada by burning tyres and staged demonstrations in front of the central government offices. However, medical services were kept out of the purview of the stir. With buses staying off the road, hundreds of passengers were seen stranded at bus stops in the four Maoist-hit districts.
Congress alleged that the BJD converted the hartal into a bandh call causing immense hardships to the people. “The BJD members blocked roads, forcing people to shut shops and markets,” alleged Congress whip Tara Prasad Bahinipati. BJD countered saying people voluntarily extended support to the hartal by closing markets .
In Bhubaneswar, the BJD staged a dharna in front of Raj Bhavan in Bhubaneswar. A delegation of ministers, MPs, MLAs and workers of the party met Governor S C Jamir and handed over a memorandum addressed to the President of India. The BJD leaders said the Centre should immediately stop the construction work since the matter is pending in the Supreme Court. “The construction of the project has been allowed violating decisions of Godavari Water Disputes Tribunal,” said food supplies and consumer welfare minister Sanjay Das Burma.