Widespread protests in Karnataka disrupt movement of vehicles

Falling in line with the Supreme Court directive, Karnataka today began releasing Cauvery water to Tamil Nadu, setting off a wave of protests against it in the river basin districts.

After repeatedly maintaining that the State itself was in a distress situation, the Karnataka government released water from Krishna Raja Sagar and Kabini dams early today to ensure flow of 9,000 cusecs of water to the neighbouring State.

“It is inevitable for government to release water to comply with the Supreme Court order. With due respect to the Supreme Court we are releasing water. However, we are committed to protect the interests of farmers”, Chief Minister Jagadish Shettar told reporters.

As the decision led to intensified protests, Shettar urged agitators to maintain peace and said the government would file a petition before the Supreme Court, seeking a review of its order asking the State to honour the Cauvery River Authority directive to release 9,000 cusecs to Tamil Nadu till Oct 15.

Protests in parts of Mandya, Mysore, Chamarajanagar and Bangalore led to disruption of vehicular movement in the Bangalore—Mysore sector, even as opposition Congress demanded resignation of the BJP government for its “failure” to protect farmers’ interests.

Karnataka has already appealed to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, also the CRA Chairman, to review its September 19 order and keep it in abeyance till the decision was reviewed.

Water Resources Minister Basavaraj Bommai termed the CRA order as “arbitrary” and said it was passed without assessing the ground realities in the State.

Farmers’ outfits and Kannada protagonist organisations defied prohibitory orders and attempted to lay seige to KRS reservoir, which police foiled by taking into custody more than 300 people, including JDS MLA from Melukote C S Puttaraju.

The release of water to Tamil Nadu, over which Karnataka is locked in a decade long Cauvery dispute, comes a day after an all-party meeting decided to request the Prime Minister to review the CRA directive, asking Karnataka to release 9000 cusecs of water.

The all-party meet was held in the backdrop of the Apex Court on Friday directing the state to implement the CRA order.

(This article was published on September 30, 2012)
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