CM HD Kumaraswamy has assured to release funds for the development of North Karnataka.

North Ktaka bandh CM intervenes organisations call off bandh
news Politics Thursday, August 02, 2018 - 13:11

The North Karnataka bandh, called by Uttara Karnataka Vikasa Vedike and Uttara Karnataka Horata Samiti, was withdrawn late night on Wednesday.

The bandh was called by the two organisations with the support of more than twenty organisations, around 30 seers and farmers groups in the region. They were also backed by two prominent BJP MLAs from the region, Umesh Katti and B Sriramulu.

BD Hiremath, an advocate from Dharwad and a convenor of the Uttara Karnataka Vikasa Vedike, spoke to TNM and said, “We took this decision after the protest on Tuesday when we voiced the neglect suffered by the districts in the northern part of the state. After gaining assurances from the Chief Minister, we told the organisations to call off the bandh and other protests.”

Chandrashekhar, a seer from Hukkeri also confirmed that CM Kumaraswamy had discussed the issue of developing the districts in the northern part of Karnataka following Tuesdays protest. 

Speaking to TNM, Somashekar Kothambari, President of Pratyeka Rajya Horata Samiti said, "Among a number of assurances given to the protestors the CM has confirmed that the Suvarna Soudha will be strengthened and at least 10 departments will shift offices here. He also said that the Lokayukta will also be strengthened similarly and funds will be released for farm loan waiver and development projects in North Karnataka."

Somashekar Kothambari also said that they will wait for 15 days, and if their demands are not fulfilled, then they will renew the calls for a separate state. 

Background

North Karnataka consists of 13 districts in Karnataka, of which six fall under the Hyderabad-Karnataka region and the remaining seven form part of the Bombay-Karnataka region.

The main demands of the protestors are to implement the Upper Krishna project and the Kalasa-Nala-Banduri project and the release of funds for development of the region. 

The Supreme Court had permitted the Karnataka Government to increase the height of Almatti dam from 519.6 metres to 524 metres, to increase the storage capacity by 130 tmc. The Upper Krishna Project, if implemented, would displace 22 villages and submerge around 1.2 lakh acres of land in and around the Almatti dam.

The Karnataka government plans to divert 7.56 tmc (thousand million cubic) of water from the Mahadayi river to the Malaprabha river to meet the drinking water needs of the twin cities of Hubballi-Dharwad and the surrounding villages.

The Mahadayi Water Disputes Tribunal (MWDT), headed by Justice J.N. Panchal, is expected to deliver its verdict in the case before August 20.

However, the lukewarm response to the protest from the residents in North Karnataka had threatened to quell the bandh even before it began. Initially the protest was for a separate state of North Karnataka, but in the protest held at Suvarna Soudha in Belagavi on Tuesday, which was led by BJP leaders BS Yeddyurappa and Umesh Katti, the demand had changed into a cry for the development of the region and not for a separate state. Activists also say that the demand for a separate state is nothing but a tactic to pressurise the state government.

Hiremath had earlier told TNM that when the Suvarna Vidhana Soudha was inaugurated in Belagavi six years ago, the then President Pranab Mukherjee had remarked that this should be a power centre to take decisions, but till date, neither a single department nor top IAS officers, who have the power to take decisions, have been working out of Belagavi.

Noted Kannada activist Ashok Chandargi had also pointed out that the Suvarna Soudha is barely used by decision-makers. He also said that Rs 5 crore per year is spent on maintaining the building and that he believed that it must be used by the elected representatives and top IAS officers.

Read: A history of neglect: Understanding North Karnataka statehood demand 

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