Congress observes Odisha shutdown over Mahanadi river dispute

Bhubaneswar, Aug 16 (IANS) Normal life came to a grinding halt in many parts of Odisha as the Congress party on Tuesday observed statewide dawn-to-dusk shutdown over Mahanadi water dispute.

The Congress protested the damming of Mahanadi river upstream in Chhattisgarh and said the Centre must intervene to stop the construction works immediately.

The Odisha government has struck a tacit deal with industries to allow the construction, said the Congress.

The protesters blocked railway tracks, leaving passengers stranded for hours at many places.

The Congress supporters also blocked roads by burning tyres and picketing, obstructing traffic in many places.

Shops, business establishments, markets, educational institutions were closed in most parts of Odisha. The Congress workers also picketed the state secretariat and other government offices, said police.

Several ministers were seen entering the state secretariat through the back gate, riding pillion on motor-cycles. Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik went to his residence in Khurda district amidst tight security.

Pradesh Congress Committee President Prasad Harichandan claimed that people spontaneously extended their support to the shutdown call in order to safeguard the interests of the state.

“The shutdown call has been given to create awareness among the people of Odisha. Both Odisha and Chhattisgarh governments are responsible for the Mahanadi river water dispute. The central government has remained a mute spectator,” he said.

The Centre should instruct the Chhattisgarh government to stop construction of the dam on the Mahanadi river till the issue is resolved, he said.

Congress leaders also courted arrest here. They included Prasad Harichandan, Niranjan Patnaik, Hemananda Biswal, Jaydev Jena, Srikant Jena, Chiranjib Biswal, Ranjib Biswal and Leader of Opposition Narasingh Mishra.

Elaborate security arrangements have been made to prevent any untoward situation during the shutdown, police said.

–IANS

cd/kb/vt

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