Karnataka Bandh today over Mahadayi river dispute; Schools, Offices remain shut

Though differences have emerged among outfits over the bandh call, Vatal Nagaraj, who heads "Kannada Okoota", an umbrella organisation of Kannada bodies, said there would be a state-wide dawn to dusk bandh on January 25, demanding the Prime Minister's intervention.

To make sure law and order is maintained, more than 15,000 personnel will be deployed in Bengaluru.

Rejecting BJP's charges that the bandhs were instigated by the ruling Congress, Siddaramaiah has termed it as baseless. While the river originates in Karnataka, a major part of it flows in Goa. Essential services including hospitals, medical shops, the fire department will remain open. Addressing a rally in Mysuru on Thursday, Shah said, "Congress is in fear by BJP Karnataka's Parivartana Yatre, that's why they are trying to stop PM Modi's rally on 4th February and calling for state shutdown".

But, considering that Karnataka elections are upon us and the strategic timing of the bandh raises the pertinent question: Is this bandh politically motivated? Shah is scheduled to address a party rally on Thursday.

BJP leader B.S. Yeddyurappa, in a counter, has threatened to hold similar bandhs during AICC president Rahul Gandhi's rallies in Karnataka in the coming days.

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This has led to a pitched political battle in the state, with the Congress accusing the BJP of not doing enough to ensure water for those living in these drought prone regions. "Why you have not made efforts to convince the Opposition Congress in Goa?" he asked.

The 12-hour shutdown was observed for getting the Mahadayi river water from neighbouring Goa to meet the drinking needs of the people in Belagavi, Bagalkote, Dharwad and Hubballi districts.

The Mahaydai Water Disputes Tribunal, headed by J.N. Panchal, on July 28, 2016 rejected the state's petition for releasing the river water, citing various grounds, including ecological damage the twin canal projects may cause.

Agitators are holding protests in Attibelle, Bangalore Urban district Karnataka, over Mahadayi water dispute.

In a veiled threat to both the BJP and Congress, he said, "BJP requires votes to come back to power and the Congress to retain power in the state, so they better talk to their respective party leaders in Goa and the Centre and solve this issue".

  • Marjorie Miles