Saturday, January 27, 2018

On Wednesday, various cities in the Indian state of Karnataka observed Karnataka Bandh ((en)) English language: Karnataka closed , as people protested for central government to sort out the dispute of water share for the Mandovi river, also known as Mahadayi, which has been going on for decades. Bus service in Karnataka’s capital Bangalore was at a complete halt, however, the bandh was not strictly followed in southern parts of Karnataka, including in Mysore.

The 77 kilometer (about 48 mile) river originates in northern Karnataka, and flows through Goa. Almost two thirds of the river’s length is in Goa. Requests for 7.6 billion cubic feet (about 175,000 acre-feet) of river water to be released to Belagavi, Bagalkot, Dharwad and Gadag districts were made by Karnataka government for seventeen years. There were plans for Karnataka to build canals for storing water for those four districts, which are prone to drought, which were stopped by judge JN Panchal in July 2016, asserting the affects on environment.

As a result of bandh, various schools and colleges announced a holiday, and Bangalore University postponed their exams. Deputy Commissioner Ramprasath Manohar said, “Schools and colleges in Ballari district of Karnataka will remain closed in the light of the state-wide bandh called by the pro-Kannada organisations and farmers’ welfare associations”.

Indian Medical Association wore a black band for the support, as the medical services we not interrupted in Banglaore, nor were auto-rickshaw services. Hotels remained open at some places. Movie cinemas and malls were also to stay closed.

Kannada actor Prakash Raj uploaded a video on Twitter saying, “First of all, all political parties must stop politicising it. We Kannadigas have a right over the water that flows past Kalasa Banduri. In a democracy, once a political party comes to power, it is no longer just a political party, but a party that is duty-bound to work for the people it represents. Any party that keeps saying — ‘our party is ruling at the Centre, so we will take the water through political means’ — is telling a blatant lie. This is a pro-people agitation. Please don’t do politics over people’s fundamental rights. My request to all parties — please leave your political ideologies aside, put aside these attempts to beg for votes. We must come together and stand together to put pressure for our rightful share in the water. Let’s agitate and ensure our rights are given to us.”

The Bhartiya Janta Party (BJP) claimed the timing of the bandh was a political ploy to distract from party president Amit Shah’s scheduled rally on the same day in Mysore.

Vatal Nagaraj, who heads the pro-Kannada umbrella group Kannada Okoota which called the bandh, thanked public and private organisations for their observance of the bandh and claimed it was “total” across Karnataka. He said he visited different parts of the city Thursday morning.

Speaking to Press Trust of India, Deryk Natto, the managing director of Goa’s state bus service Kadamba Transport Corporation Limited, said, “The services to Karnataka have been suspended for a day due to the strike called by them. The services will resume once the strike is called off”. 23 buses bound to Karnataka were suspended.

Due to the strikes, traffic in Bangalore was lesser than usual. Unlike the case with buses, Namma Metro service in Bengaluru was functioning. A spokesperson of the metro service said, “If and only if there is a hindrance to safety of the passengers, we will inform the police and stop services.” Police arrested protestors at the KSR Bangalore Railway station who attempted to disrupt the railway facilities. 15000 police officials were assigned for security measures in Bangalore alone.

In Mysore, a number of shops were open at 10:30 AM, and there was usual traffic. Pharmaceutical shops remained open, however, some shops were closed. Protesters forced some shops to close, but classes in The National Institute of Engineering continued. Former Chief Minister B.S. Yeddyurappafew said a few days ago, “We fully support the Mahadayi project. There is no need for a bandh. Bandh is only needed in the areas where people are suffering.”

A person from Mangalore told Wikinews there was no effect of bandh in Mangalore, and some restaurants and hotels had posters, which roughly translate, “We feel sorry that you do not have water. But stop hurting our livelihood by organisining these bandhs((kn)) Kannada language: ????? ??????? ???? ??????. ????? ??? ??? ???? ???? ???? ??????? ???? ????????! ? ???? ???? ?? ???? ?????????? “.

A bandh is scheduled on February 4, when Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi is to address a BJP rally in Bangalore.

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