JEYPORE/KORAPUT: Vehicular traffic was hit for several hours in Koraput district as the BJD workers of Koraput, Jeypore, Semiliguda and Borrigumma blocked the NH-26 from Sunki to Kotpad by burning tyres as part of their hartal against Polavaram project on Thursday.
Business establishments, banks, Government offices and educational institutions remained closed. People were stranded at bus stands as the passenger vehicles remained off the road in the wake of the hartal call. However, emergency services were spared from the hartal, which was observed from 7 am to 5 pm.
At Jeypore, former minister Rabi Nanda led the agitation. The party workers sent a memorandum to the President of India Pranab Mukherjee demanding stopping of construction works of Polavaram project as it would affect the livelihood of several tribal villagers in 25 villages in Motu block of Malkangiri district.
At Koraput, the hartal was led by Koraput MP Jhina Hikaka.
At Rayagada, shops and business establishments remained closed during the hartal and vehicular movement was affected as the protestors staged demonstrations at different places of the district intensifying their opposition to the project. The BJD workers stopped Koraput-Visakhapatnam DMU train at Rayagada and Sambalpur-Rayagada Tapaswini Express at Muniguda. They said three States of Odisha, Chhattishgarh and Telangana would be affected by the project, but the Centre has only supported Andhra Pradesh so far.
In Nabarangpur, normal life came to a standstill. The BJD workers led by Minister Pushpendra Singhdeo and local MLA Manohar Randhari sat on a dharna on the NH in front of Bhandargharani temple. Vehicles remained off the road throughout the district. Supporting the demand, local lawyers did not attend courts. The party workers also submitted a memorandum to the President over the alleged injustice meted out to the State as far as the Polavaram project is concerned. They alleged that the Centre accorded National Project status to Polavaram when the matter is pending in the Supreme Court.
The hartal was total in Malkangiri district, where Motu will be submerged if the Polavaram project comes up. Hundreds of BJD activists divided into groups picketed at different places across Malkangiri town.
Transport Minister Ramesh Chandra Majhi, Nabarangpur MP Balabhadra Majhi, Malkangiri MLA Manas Madkami, Zilla Parishad president Padmini Muduli, Zilla Parishad vice-president Bansi Muduli and Malkangiri Municipality Chairman Rajbant Kaur picketed at DNK Chowk in Malkangiri.
They said the project will submerge 7,656 hectares of land in Malkangiri district and displace nearly 7,000 tribal people.
Majhi said the party had given a proposal to Prime Minister Narendra Modi to create three barrages instead of a big dam. If the barrages are created, only 74 villages will be drowned. However, the Government is yet to look into the demand, he added.