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Karnataka shutdown on Friday over Cauvery water release

Statesman News Service |

Karnataka will shut down on Friday in protest against the state government releasing Cauvery river waters to Tamil Nadu on the Supreme Court’s order from Wednesday.

"The day-long state-wide shutdown is in protest against the Supreme Court order and to express resentment over the state government releasing the water when we don’t have it for drinking and irrigation," Kannada Okkuta (federation) president Vatal Nagaraj told reporters here on Wednesday.

Several pro-Kannada and farmers’ organisations have extended support to the shutdown, which will disrupt normal life, with bus services suspended, schools, colleges, hotels, shops, markets, theatres, banks and factories remaining closed.

"Unfortunately, Karnataka is always at the receiving end in inter-state river water disputes, bet it with Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh (Krishna river) and Goa (Mahadayi river). Grave injustice has been meted to our state," lamented Nagaraj.

Bowing to the apex court’s Monday order, the state began releasing daily 15,000 cusecs from early Wednesday from Krishna Raja Sagar (KRS) and Kabini reservoirs across the river basin for 10 days amid protests and demonstrations by farmers, traders and youth in the Mysuru region.

Admitting that frequent shutdowns cause inconvenience to the public, Nagaraj said there was no alternative to protest against the "injustice and failure of the state government in protecting the interests of the people, especially farmers".

Taxi and autorickshaw drivers’ associations have also decided to not to ply during the shutdown.

The federation, however, exempted supply of essentials, including milk and medicines from the shut down. Ambulances will also be allowed to ferry patients to hospitals.

"We also appeal to the IT and biotech industry to shut their offices on Friday and support our struggle, as its employees are also direct beneficiaries of the Cauvery river from where drinking water is supplied daily throughout the year," said an activist of the Kannada Rakshana Vedike (protection forum).

Meanwhile, massive protests and demos continued to disrupt normal life for the second consecutive day in Mandya district, about 100km from here, through which the river flows towards Tamil Nadu.

With roads and inter-state highways in the Mysuru region and towards Tamil Nadu and Kerala blocked by protestors with barricades and human chains, vehicular traffic has remained affected for the second day.

The Mandya administration declared holiday for schools and colleges across the district till Friday to ensure the safety of their wards.

The state-run transport corporations of Karnataka and Tamil Nadu also decided to suspend bus services between the two states till Friday to avoid being stopped or stranded by the protestors on the highways.

State police has rushed reinforcements to Mandya and Mysuru districts and deployed additional personnel at the reservoirs to prevent any untoward incident.

Transporters also suspended their operations as several trucks with Tamil Nadu registration were stoned and damaged by protestors across the region.