Normal life was paralysed across Odisha on Monday due to a dawn-to-dusk bandh called by Congress against construction of dams on Mahanadi river in Chhattisgarh and demanded intervention by the Centre to halt the projects, even as the party threatened to intensify its stir.
The party also hit out at the BJD regime in Odisha and the BJP government in Chhattisgarh, holding them responsible for the controversy.
While Congress accused the Naveen Patnaik government of “inaction” and silence on the issue despite being aware of the projects on upstream of the river since 2001, the Chhattisgarh government was attacked for “unilateral” constructions.
Rail services were hit and over two dozen trains delayed as bandh supporters staged dharna on railway tracks in Bhubaneswar, Sambalpur and Cuttack leaving a large number of passengers stranded, a police official said.
Vehicular movement virtually came to a standstill at many places with Congress supporters blocking roads by burning tyres and putting up blockades.
Shops, business houses, educational institutions and offices were shut 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. Many Congress leaders and workers were held here to stop them from entering the state secretariat. Bandh supporters were detained in some other places also, they said.
The bandh remained by and large peaceful, barring some stray incidents in Bhubaneswar, Angul, Keonjhar and Athgarh, police said, adding a bandh supporter was attacked with knife allegedly by a shopkeeper in Kendrapara district.
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.
Describing the bandh as a success throughout the state, Odisha Congress president Prasad Harichandan claimed that people from all sections spontaneously supported the shutdown to safeguard the interest of the state.
Stating that the bandh was a warning to the Odisha and Chhattisgarh governments who had betrayed the people, the PCC chief said Congress would intensify its agitation as part of its battle to protect Odisha’s rights over Mahanadi water.
Asking the BJP-led Central government to intervene immediately in the matter, Harichandan said the government should instruct the Chhattisgarh government to stop construction of barrages and dams in the upper catchment areas of the Mahanadi river till the issue was resolved.