The Statewide bandh call given by various pro-Kannada organisations on Saturday, demanding implementation of the project of diverting the Mahadayi water to Kalasa-Banduri canal evoked good response across the district.Educational institutions and commercial establishments remained closed on the day. Employees of State government did not attend the work to express their solidarity with the farmers of north Karnataka, who are protesting for the implementation of the project.
As the employees of Karnataka State Road Transportation Corporation (KSRTC) had expressed their support for the bandh, the bus service was suspended, creating hardship for commuters bound to distant places. Of the 1,048 trips operated by the KSRTC from Shivamogga daily along 94 routes, more than 950 trips had been cancelled.
However, the bus service resumed after 5 p.m. The services of private buses and autorickshaws was normal.
Activists of the Karnataka Rajya Raitha Sangha (KRRS), Karnataka Rakshana Vedike and other pro-Kannada organisations took out a rally here. Addressing a protest meet at Ashoka Circle here, H.R. Basavarajappa, working president of KRRS, demanded the intervention of Prime Minister Narendra Modi in getting the imbroglio prevailing over the project cleared.
Of the 200 tmcft water of Mahadayi river that flows into the Arabian sea, Karnataka proposes to use 7.5 tmcft water for drinking purpose. It was unfortunate that the governments of Maharashtra and Goa had approached the court with objections over the project, he said.
The north Karnataka region was perennially drought-hit and people in many villages there had to travel several miles to fetch drinking water. Both Goa and Maharashtra States should view the project on humanitarian consideration.
Objections raised by the two States over the project were against the spirit of federalism, he said.
It was the responsibility of the Prime Minister to convene a meeting of political leaders of Karnataka, Maharashtra and Goa and evolve an amicable solution for the problem. Leaders of the Congress, Bharatiya Janata Party and Janata Dal (Secular) should not politicise the issue, he said. Social activist Kadidal Shamanna, functionaries of KRRS S. Shivamurthy and Y.G. Mallikarjun participated in the protest.
Functionaries of the District Bar Association, Shivamogga District Chamber of Commerce and Industries also staged separate protests and submitted memoranda at the Deputy Commissioner’s office seeking early implementation of the project.
In Mandya District:-
The Statewide bandh called by ‘Kannada Okkoota’, a forum of pro-Kannada and farmers’ organisations, demanding early implementation of the Kalasa-Banduri Nala project, evoked a mixed response in Mandya and Ramanagaram districts on Saturday.
Business activities and normal life in most parts of the two districts remained unaffected by the bandh. However, commuters were stranded at bus-stands in all taluk and hobli centres as the Karnataka State Road Transport Corporation (KSRTC) had withdrawn bus services as a precautionary measure.
Autorickshaws, cabs and other private transport vehicles operated normally.
There was a good response to the bandh call only for the first few hours of the day with shopkeepers voluntarily closing the shops in Mandya, Maddur, Malavalli and Srirangapatna taluks in Mandya district; and Ramanagaram, Channapatna, Kanakapura and Magadi taluks in Ramanagaram district.
Nevertheless, the normal business activities were restored by afternoon.
According to the police sources, members of several associations forced the businessmen to down their shutters in Mandya, Maddur, Channapatna, Ramanagaram and Bidadi.
As it happens on any such bandh day, according to the public, autorickshaw drivers exploited the commuters in both the districts by charging exorbitant fares for short distances. Whilst Karnataka Rajya Raitha Sangha (KRRS) members blocked the road at several places on Bengaluru-Mysuru highway, between Srirangapatna in Mandya district and Ramanagaram, members of various associations took out motorcycle rallies and processions in both the districts.No untoward incident was reported from anywhere.
In Hassan,Chikkamagaluru District:-
The Statewide bandh call given by pro-Kannada organisations evoked good response in Hassan and Chikkamagaluru districts on Saturday.
Schools and colleges remained closed on the day. Presence of officials in government offices was meagre as buses and autorickshaws were off the road.
Fuel outlets, cinema halls, shopping malls, commercial establishments and market place were closed till evening.
Several progressive organisations and pro-Kannada forums of Hassan and Chikkamagaluru had extended support to the bandh, which had been called to put pressure on the State and Union governments to implement the Kalasa-Banduri project.
Members of Rajkumar Abhimani Sangha and Veera Kannadigas took out a rally here. Similar protest rallies were witnessed in Chikkamagaluru as well. Members of Janata Dal (Secular) took out a motorcycle rally in Hassan. Response to the bandh was by and large total at taluk headquartgers too. In some places, shopkeepers entered in to heated argument with protesters, who allegedly forced them to pull down the shutters.
A hotel-owner at Bikkodu in Belur taluk told the protesters that by closing the hotel, be would be losing about Rs. 1,500, which he had spent on preparing some food items for the day.
Similarly, owners of roadside petty shops were seen venting their ire against the bandh call. Suresh, shopkeeper, wanted to know the purpose of observing bandh, when shopkeepers were to lose their business. He was upset with frequent bandhs.
In Chamarajanagar District:-
The bandh on Saturday was peaceful across Chamarajanagar district.The bandh call had been given by pro-Kannada organisations urging the Union and State governments to implement Kalasa-Banduri project. More than 50 activists of the Zilla Kannada Sanghatanegala Okkoota took out a rally from Bhuvaneshwari Circle here at about 8 a.m. raising slogans against the Goa government. They blocked the National Highway 209 and burnt tyres.
All schools and colleges, commercial establishments and business houses across the district remained closed. The KSRTC and private buses were off the road. Attendance at State and Union government offices was poor.
Extending their support to the bandh call, all cinema houses remained closed. he district police had made adequate security arrangements.