In the midst of one of the worst droughts Karnataka has seen, people in four districts of northern Karnataka have been demanding the implementation of a drinking water project for two months, and are showing no signs of descaling their protest.
For the 66 days, the town of Nargund in Gadag district has been the epicenter of the dharna with the people of Dharwad, Gadag, Bagalkot and Belagavi districts stridently protesting against government apathy in implementing the Kalasa-Banduri river link to augment drinking water supply in the region.
First mooted during the SM Krishna government, the project has been delayed for over a decade during which the state has seen two of the worst droughts in 40 years. The people of the region consider it their lifeline as the region is part of Karnatakaâ€™s arid area, which is second only to Rajasthan in water scarcity.
The 66-day agitation has seen several bouts of verbal dueling between the ruling and Opposition parties and assurances by the government. Sandalwood too threw its support behind the agitation, possibly on the second time the film industry has openly come out in support of a popular social movement after the Gokak language agitation in which superstar Raj Kumar actively participated.
Despite several days of near shutdown, Nargund and the surrounding towns are showing no signs of giving up their protest. If anything, the mood only seems to be intensifying.
A padayatra has been organized from September 25 onwards, possibly under the leadership of senior journalist and social activist Patil Puttappa. Starting from Kudala Sangama (where Krishna and Malaprabha rivers meet) in Bagalkot district, the padayatra would complete 25 km a day and reach the Mahadayiâ€™s birth place in Bhimgad, Belagavi district in 25 days. A state-wide bandh has also been called for September 26.