Protests have broken out in various parts of the Cauvery river basin districts of Karnataka after the Supreme Court declined to intervene with the orders of the Cauvery Water Management Authority (CWMA) and the Cauvery Water Regulation Committee. These orders dictate that the state must release 5,000 cusecs of water to neighbouring Tamil Nadu, sparking outrage amongst farmers and pro-Kannada organisations in Mysuru, Mandya, Bengaluru among others.
“Where is water to release? And we demand justice,” clamoured the protesters, expressing their pent-up frustration. Additional demonstrations are also in the pipeline, such as a planned siege on the Command Area Development Authority office in Mysuru by the Karnataka Rajya Raitha Sangha and Hasiru Sene – local farmers’ organisations.
Pointing out that Cauvery and Kabini basin taluks have already been declared as drought-hit, a farmer leader alleged, “CWMA orders are in favour of Tamil Nadu as it is without taking into account the water level at reservoirs, standing crops and drinking water needs of Karnataka.”
The Karnataka Rakshana Vedike staged a protest at Gandhinagar, urging the state government not to release water to Tamil Nadu under any circumstances. The group’s chief, T. A. Narayana Gowda, called it a “black day” for Karnataka.
“The Supreme Court has shut its door on us, by upholding the orders of the CWMA,” Gowda lamented.
Mr Gowda and several Vedike activists were detained by the police following the unrest.
Meanwhile, Chief Minister Siddaramaiah has been urged to take a hard stand in the interests of the state and refrain from releasing water. Mr. Gowda voiced his support for the Chief Minister if he chooses to defy the orders of the Supreme Court and CWMA, stating that all activists and people were ready to accompany him to jail if necessary.
On the other hand, BJP leader and former Minister R Ashoka has accused Chief Minister Siddaramaiah and Deputy Chief Minister D K Shivakumar of betraying the people of Karnataka to protect the congress party’s political interests.
“They (Congress) want (M K) Stalin’s (TN CM) cooperation for Parliamentary elections, so they released water betraying the people of Karnataka. Siddaramaiah and Shivakumar neither spoke to the Tamil Nadu government to resolve the issue or made any statement against them,” Ashoka criticised.
Ashoka held the state’s Congress government responsible for Karnataka’s failure on the Cauvery issue, and stated that the BJP will protest against this and urge the administration to protect the state’s interest.
The CWMA, earlier this week, asked Karnataka to continue releasing 5,000 cusecs of water to Tamil Nadu for another 15 days. This decision was taken after the Cauvery Water Regulation Committee (CWRC) made a similar recommendation last week. However, Karnataka maintains that it is unable to release water to Tamil Nadu, citing scarcity due to insufficient monsoon rains and the need to meet its own drinking water and agriculture needs.
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