Normal life was crippled in most parts of Odisha on Tuesday due to a dawn-to-dusk bandh called by Congress protesting the construction of dams on the upstream of the Mahanadi river in Chhattisgarh and demanded immediate intervention by the Centre to halt these projects.
The party also hit out at the ruling BJD in Odisha for its “inaction” and silence, and also at BJP, which is in power in Chhattisgarh, for “unilateral” construction on the river.
Congress supporters blocked railway tracks at many places. Several trains were halted at various stations including Bhubaneswar, Sambalpur and Cuttack and a large number of passengers were left stranded at railway stations in many places, a police official said.
Vehicular movement virtually came to a standstill in many places with the party supporters blocking the roads by burning tyres and putting hurdles. Traffic came to a grinding halt on National Highway five between the twin cities of Cuttack and Bhubaneswar. Similar situations were witnessed elsewhere.
Shops, business establishments, markets, educational institutions were closed in most parts of the state as Congress supporters picketed to enforce the bandh, police said.
Tight security arrangements were made to prevent any untoward incident, and several Congress supporters were held at the capital city as they tried to proceed towards the state secretariat, the police official said, adding some supporters of the bandh were detained in some other places also.
Apart from Bhubaneswar, the impact of the bandh was felt in Cuttack, Sambalpur, Berhampur, Balasore, Bhadrak, Puri, Jagatsinghpur, Bhawanipatna, Angul, Kendrapara, Balangir, Talcher and Dhenkanal, officials said.
Asserting that the bandh is a success, Odisha Congress chief Prasad Harichandan claimed that people spontaneously extended support to the call for the shutdown in order to safeguard the interest of the state.
“Both Odisha and Chhattisgarh governments are responsible for the controversy over Mahanadi river water. They have betrayed the people,” he alleged.
Asking the BJP-led NDA government at the Centre to intervene immediately in the matter, Harichandan said the Centre should instruct the Chhattisgarh government to stop construction of barrages and dams in the upper catchment areas of the river till the issue is resolved.