Cauvery river row: Karnataka bandh evokes good response

Mandya: Even as it faced an upsurge of protests in the Cauvery basin districts of Mandya and Mysuru over the release of water to Tamil Nadu, the state government made a decision to play it safe rather than invite the wrath of the apex court by releasing the stipulated 15,000 cusecs of water daily to the neighbouring state over the next 10 days.

A state-wide bandh to protest against the release of Cauvery waters to Tamil Nadu has brought Karnataka to a halt on Friday. Times of India reported that approximately 25,000 police personnel will be present in Bengaluru to maintain peace. Schools and colleges in Mandya, which closed down on Tuesday, have still not reopened.

As the Cauvery row hotted up with the state observing the bandh, Siddaramaiah dashed off a missive to Modi, saying the "unrest", if continued, would have a serious impact on the state's economy as also the IT sector which fetches enormous revenue and foreign exchange to the country.

Vehicular movement between Bengaluru and Mysuru was hit today as well as the highway was blocked at several places in Mandya district, the epicentre of the stir. 36 Karnataka State Reserve Police, 30 City Armed Reserve platoons and one company Rapid Action Force have been deployed.

Opposition parties - the BJP and the JD (S) - have lent their support to the bandh along with auto-rickshaw and cab unions. In the absence of political will by the chief ministers to meet face to face, the problem keeps recurring.

The wisdom of generations of Supreme Court judges has been unable to find the ultimate equitable solution that would stop the states of upper riparian Karnataka and lower riparian Tamil Nadu bickering with each other, while Kerala and Puducherry watch with interest as they also have a share in the river's bounty.

Hundreds of people, including farmers, traders, students, and women staged massive demonstrations and took out rallies in Bengaluru, Mandya, Mysuru, and other cities and towns across the state in protest against the state government, Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J. Jayalalithaa, and the Supreme Court.

Though the tribunal has provided for sharing of distress without giving the operational method or formula, the state released 33 tmcft of water till August on the basis of proportionality as specified by the tribunal.

Meanwhile, the state government has written to the Ministry of Water Resources asking them to constitute an expert committee to have a re-look at the ground situation in Karnataka.

The Karnataka government had also said it would approach the apex court seeking modification of its order because of the difficulties in implementing it, given that the live storage in four reservoirs in the Cauvery basin now was 46.7 TMC ft against their capacity of 104 TMC ft.

  • Leroy Wright