Prime News, State, (Bengaluru), December 27:-A bandh would be observed in north Karnataka districts on Wednesday over the issue of getting inter-state Mahadayi river water from Goa to meet the drinking water needs of drought prone areas of the region.
The dawn-to-dusk bandh, called by ‘Mahadayi Kalasa Banduri Nala Horata Samanvaya Samiti’, an umbrella organisation spearheading the agitation on the issue, is being supported by several pro-Kannada and other organisations, including the Kannada film industry.
Terming the bandh as a “warning bell” to the state and central government, the samiti leaders demanded a solution at the earliest, even as they hit out at political parties for playing politics on the issue.
The bandh is likely to have an impact in Gadag, Dharwad, Bagalkote, Hubballi, Bailahongala and neighbouring areas.
A protest rally was scheduled to be held in Hubballi on Wedesday as part of the agitation, the leaders said.
State Home Minister Ramalinga Reddy said elaborate security arrangements had been made to avoid any untoward incidents.
Karnataka, which has locked horns with neighbouring Goa on sharing Mahadayi River water, is seeking release of 7.56 tmcft water for the Kalasa-Banduri Nala project.
It is being undertaken to improve drinking water supply to the twin cities of Hubballi-Dharwad and districts of Belagavi and Gadag.
The project involves building barrages across Kalasa and Banduri, tributaries of Mahadayi river, to divert 7.56 tmc ft water of to Malaprabha which meets drinking water needs of the region.
The Karnataka government had earlier petitioned the Mahadayi Water Disputes Tribunal which in its interim order had rejected the state’s plea citing various grounds, including ecological damage the project may cause.
Meanwhile, protest by a group of farmers including women from north Karnataka districts continued near the BJP state office here demanding that party state chief B S Yeddyurappa resolve the issue as promised by him last month.
Yeddyurappa had promised to get a written agreement by December 15 for resolving the issue.
Congress working president Dinesh Gundu Rao and Water Resources Minister M B Patil on Tuesday informed the protesters that the ball was in the court of BJP governments’ in Goa and at the Centre.
Yeddyurappa, who met the protesters on the fourth day of their agitation, tried to convince them to end it citing efforts made by him, and pointed out at Goa Chief Minister Manohar Pattikar’s letter to him.
Parrikar in his letter to Yeddyurappa on December 21, after mediation from BJP national President Amit Shah, had said in principle, Goa would not oppose the “reasonable” and “justified” quantum of water meant to be utilised for drinking.
He had also pointed out that the matter was pending before the Mahadayi tribunal.
Not convinced by this, the protesters accused Yeddyurappa of not keeping up his promise, and called him “betrayer”.
They said they will soon be meeting to decide about continuing their protest near the BJP office.
Speaking to reporters, Yeddyurappa accused Chief Minister Siddaramaiah and Congress of “playing politics” on the issue.
Pointing at Congress in Goa opposing their Chief Minister’s stand on amicably solving the issue, he said Siddaramaiah, Congress President Rahul Gandhi and his mother Sonia Gandhi were indirectly supporting this.
Goa had earlier expressed its opposition to the out of court settlement of the dispute, and had not responded positively for the proposed meeting of chief ministers of riparian states including Maharashtra.
Goa’s willingness to consider an amicable settlement to the issue now comes after Shah mediated a meeting between Parikkar and a BJP team from Karnataka in Delhi last week.
Mahadayi has become an emotive political issue in northern parts ahead of the state assembly elections due early next year.
-(NAV, Inputs: Agencies)