BHUBANESWAR: Normal life was thrown out of gear in the undivided Koraput district on Thursday due to the hartal by the ruling Biju Janata Dal (BJD) in protest against the Polavaram project. The BJD move, however, came in for sharp criticism from the opposition parties who alleged that it was meant to divert attention from the Government’s failure on several fronts.
Shops and business establishments downed their shutters and vehicular traffic came to a halt as the protestors staged demonstrations at different places of southern districts.
All Government offices, banks and post offices were also closed in response to the ruling party sponsored hartal. However, hospitals and other emergency services remained open. The hartal in the four districts of Koraput, Nabarangpur, Rayagada and Malkangiri was peaceful. Senior ministers were kept in charge of four districts to make the hartal a success.
BJD also staged a demonstration in front of the Raj Bhavan here demanding that the Polavaram project should be stopped till all issues raised by Odisha are resolved. Ministers, MPs, MLAs and senior BJD leaders addressed the protest meeting.
A memorandum addressed to the President of India was submitted to Governor SC Jamir by a delegation of ministers and party MLAs. The memorandum demanded that Palli Sabhas should be conducted in areas to be affected by the project to know the opinion of local people.
“Construction of the project should be stopped till a verdict of the Supreme Court or issues raised by Odisha are resolved,” it stated.
Stating that the project will affect the interest of tribal people and submerge a large area, the BJD leaders criticised national project status given to it though Godavari Water Dispute Tribunal (GWDT) and several other guidelines were violated.
The BJD demanded withdrawal of national status and forest and environment clearance given to the project, reducing the height of the dam to 150 metres as per the agreement between Odisha and Andhra Pradesh and cancellation of the tender process.
The Congress, however, alleged that the State Government has launched the agitation without having relevant data about the project.
President of the Odisha Pradesh Congress Committee (OPCC) Prasad Harichandan said the State Government has failed to keep its demand before the technical committee of Central Water Commission (CWC) and raise the issue effectively.