**Bhubaneswar/ Berhampur/ Malkangiri:** The dawn-to-dusk ‘hartaal’ observed by Odisha’s ruling Biju Janata Dal (BJD) on Saturday, protesting national project status to the Polavaram Dam under construction in neighbouring Andhra Pradesh, affected normal life in seven southern Odisha districts of Malkangiri, Koraput, Raygada, Nabarangpur, Ganjam, Gajapati and Kandhamal.
Bus service as well as all vehicular movements came to a grinding halt in the districts.
Shops and other business establishments downed their shutters.
However, educational institutions, having examinations, were exempted from the effect of the ‘hartaal’ as was announced on Friday by BJD spokesperson Pratap Deb.
Similarly, emergency services were also spared from the purview of the protest.
As per party sources, BJD supremo and Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik appointed observers and assistant observers for the smooth conduct of the protest in the seven districts.
Meanwhile in a major development on Friday, the Supreme Court admitted a petition of the Odisha Government challenging a section of the Andhra Pradesh Re-Organization Act under which Polavaram project was declared as a national project.
The apex court has asked both the Andhra Pradesh Government and the Government of India to file their respective replies in four weeks.