Karnataka bandh ends peacefully, CM Siddaramiah to approach the Centre to resolve dam row
news Sunday, April 19, 2015 - 05:30
A 12-hour dawn-to-dusk shutdown, which crippled normal life in many parts of Karnataka on Saturday, ended peacefully barring stray incidents.The shutdown, called by about 70 Kannada organisations and regional parties, in support of building a reservoir (dam) across the Cauvery river at Mekadutu for hydro power and drinking water supply in the old Mysuru region, received a huge response from the people in many cities and towns across the state."The shutdown was by and large peaceful barring a few incidents of stone-throwing, burning of effigies and blocking of roads and state highways to stop vehicular movement. We also made preventive arrests to maintain law and order," a senior police official told IANS.The state government's plan to build the dam at Mekedatu in Kanakapura taluk, about 100 km from Bengaluru, is facing opposition from Tamil Nadu, the southern riparian state, which shares the river water as per the tribunal award.The 800 km-long Cauvery river, which originates at Talakaveri near Kodagu in the rich biodiverse Western Ghats region, flows southwards to Tamil Nadu, Puducherry and Kerala and finally joins the Bay of Bengal sea.After holding demos and processions across Bengaluru, Mandya, Mysuru and Chamarajanagar in the state's southern region, a huge rally was held at Freedom Park in this tech hub where leaders of Kannada organisations and regional political outfits urged the state government to build the dam soon."The chief minister (Siddaramaiah) has assured us of leading a delegation to the prime minister for central government's intervention in resolving the issue with Tamil Nadu amicably," a Kannada Rakshna Vedike (protection group) leader told reporters after a 30-minute meeting with the former at his residence.The shutdown brought normal life to a standstill, with schools, colleges, markets, hotels, malls, petrol bunks and movie theatres closed in cities and towns across the old Mysore and Malnad regions, though life in the state's coastal and northern regions remained unaffected.Though state-run transport corporations did not joined the shutdown, buses were not operated in the city and across the old Mysore region. Private buses, maxi-cabs, taxis and auto-rickshwas also kept off roads.Train and flight services, however, remained unaffected though hundreds of passengers faced hardship to commute from railway stations and the airport in the absence of public or private transport.Emergency services, hospitals, medical shops, supply of milk, vegetables and essential commodities were exempted from the shutdown.Hundreds of Kannada Vedike Parishad activists and members of the Kannada film fraternity, cadres of the Kannada Chalavali Vatal Paksha (KCVP), a state political outfit, and various social and cultural organisations participated in the day-long shutdown amid tight security."The Tamil Nadu government has no moral or legal right to oppose the project, as its location is within our state and is meant to generate power and supply drinking water to Bangalore urban and rural districts, including Kanakapura and Ramanagara," KCVP president Vatal Nagaraj said.As Karnataka is releasing the quantum of the river water to Tamil Nadu as per the tribunal award through the year, the neighbouring state has no say in how the water is utilised when flowing within the state's borders.Though the state government is yet to take environmental clearance to build the dam, it has made a budgetary allocation of Rs.25-croreto prepare a detailed project report (DPR) for submission to the central government."We have invited global expression of interest for the DPR to which three firms have evinced interest so far," state Water Resources Minister M.B. Patil told reporters here. IANS
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