Bengaluru: A day-long protest shutdown is being observed at Mandya town in Karnataka against releasing of Cauvery river water to Tamil Nadu on the Supreme Court’s directive to the state government.
The district authority was forced to declare holiday for schools and colleges in the town, about 100 km from here, due to protesters staging massive rallies and demonstrations, blocking vehicular traffic on the Bengaluru-Mysuru state highway.
Though additional police personnel were deployed in the town and on the highway to maintain law and order and prevent untoward incidents, the state-run transport corporation (KSRTC) has suspended bus services in the district and across the old Mysuru region.
“We will not allow the state government to release the river water to Tamil Nadu when it is not able to supply it to our fields to grow paddy, wheat, sugarcane and other crops and for drinking in the region,” said Made Gowda, leader of the Karnataka Rajya Raitha Sangha (state farmers’ association) at Mandya.
After Tamil Nadu’s counsel pleaded for water to save the samba crop in about 40,000 acres of agricultural fields in the Cauvery delta region, the apex court on Monday ordered Karnataka to release 15,000 cusecs of water daily for 10 days to the lower-riparian on the policy of “live and let live”.
The beleaguered state government, however, expressed its inability to release more water as the four reservoirs across the river basin are half-empty due to a rainfall deficit during the southwest monsoon in August.
“The state government should immediately file a review petition in the Supreme Court on Tuesday for withdrawal of its order as we don’t have enough water for supplying to our farmers and drinking water to Bengaluru, Mandya and Mysuru,” asserted Gowda.
In a related development, police have tightened security and stepped up vigil in and around the four reservoirs — Kabini, Krishna Rajendra Sagar (KRS), Hemavathi and Harangi — in the river basin as hundreds of farmers threatened to lay siege if more water was released to the neighbouring state.
“The state government has also banned visitors and tourists from entering the KRS dam and Brindavan Gardens near Mysuru till September 9 to prevent protestors and agitating farmers from staging demonstrations or laying siege at the sluice gates,” a district official told IANS.
Meanwhile, Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah has invited floor leaders of all political parties in the state legislature, central ministers from the state and members of parliament to an all-party meeting to discuss the apex court order and decide on the next course of action.