BJD’s Polavaram bandh affects life in south Odisha

Bhubaneswar: Normal life in Koraput, Malkangiri, Nabarangpur and Rayagada districts was thrown out of gear on Thursday due to the bandh called by the ruling Biju Janata Dal (BJD) in protest against the Polavaram project.

Shops and business establishments remained closed during the bandh and vehicular movement was also affected as the protestors staged demonstrations at different places of the districts intensifying their opposition to the project.

However, emergency services were spared from the bandh, which is being observed from 7 am to 5 pm today.

BJD MLA Puspendra Singhdeo said, “The Polavaram project was declared as a national project with an aim to cater to political interests. On behalf of the people of Odisha, BJD is opposing it.

Expressing similar views, Koraput MP Jhina Hikaka said, “Many villages will be submerged and many people will be displaced. Therefore, we have been opposing it at the Parliament.”

BJD also staged a dharna in front of Raj Bhavan in Bhubaneswar today. Besides, the ministers, MPs, MLAs and workers of the party met Governor SC Jamir and handed over a memorandum for the President of India.

The BJD ministers and MLAs also demanded to conduct palli sabhas in the areas which will be affected by the project. They also demanded to withhold the construction work of the dam until a verdict of Supreme Court.

Food Supplies Minster Sanjay Dasburma said, “Odisha’s demands should be presented before the Centre properly. As it is an inter-state issue, the Centre should immediately direct the officials to conduct palli sabhas and stop the Polavaram project for an indefinite period.”

Criticising the State government for the hartal, Union minister Jual Oram said, “BJD does not have any heart-felt wish and the protest is superfluous.”

Meanwhile, PCC president Prasad Harichandan said, “Before the technical committee the State government has not presented its views keeping the interest of the people in mind. They are only playing a drama over the Polavaram issue.”

Notably, Chief Minister and BJD chief Naveen Patnaik on Wednesday said his government will go all out to protect the interests of tribals affected by the mega multipurpose project.

“Odisha will fight for its rights in Polavaram to the finish. BJD rallies at Bhubaneswar & undivided Koraput districts on January 7,” tweeted Naveen.

A total of 6, 818 persons, from the State, 5, 916 of them tribals, will be displaced due to the Polavaram project in Andhra Pradesh. Besides, 7,656 hectares of forest land and 26 villages will be submerged, the Odisha government has said.