Falling in line with the Supreme Court directive, Karnataka on Sunday 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 on Sunday to ensure flow of 9,000 cusecs of water to the neigbhouring 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, Mr. Shettar urged agitators to maintain peace and said 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 October 15, 2012.
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, 2012 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 JD(S) MLA from Melukote C.S. Puttaraju.
The release of water to Tamil Nadu, over which Karnataka is locked in a decades long Cauvery disupte, comes a day after an all-party meeting decided to request Singh to review the CRA directive, asking Karnataka to release 9000 cusecs of water.
The all-party meet was held in the backdrop of the Supreme Court on Friday directing the state to implement the CRA order.
Meanwhile, Minister of State in the PMO, V. Narayanasamy termed the agitation in Karnataka as “totally unwarranted” and said that the state should comply with the order issued by the Supreme Court and the CRA.
“It is the bounden duty of Karnataka to release water. That should be complied with by the government during the season when there is no rainfall,” he told reporters in Chennai.
G. Made Gowda, president of the body spearheading the stir, Cauvery Hitarakshana Samithi, and Opposition Congress leader in the Karnataka Assembly Siddaramaiah lashed out at Mr. Shettar for reneging on his promise to not release water and demanded his resignation.
Vehicular movement in the Bangalore-Mysore sector was affected as people staged rasta roko in several places and in Chamarajanagar. Protesters stopped buses and lorries coming from Tamil Nadu.
In Mandya, JD(S) MP N. Cheluvaraya Swamy said he was prepared to resign his Lok Sabha seat, while party MLA from Maddur, Kalpana too made a similar announcement.
Agitators also detained the Bangalore bound Tippu Express for some time at Mandya. Trains running between Mysore and Bangalore were overcrowded in the wake of the road blockade.
In the wake of widespread protests in the district, Deputy Commissioner of Mandya, B.N. Krishnaiah has
declared a holiday for schools and colleges tomorrow as a precautionary measure.
Former Chief Minister B.S. Yeddyurappa blamed the Centre’s ’pro-Tamil Nadu’ policy for the protests and said he was ready to take part in the agitation if injustice was meted out.