Complying with the Supreme Court direction, Karnataka government has started releasing Cauvery water to Tamil Nadu despite "severe hardships", as protests in the wake of the court order intensified across the state.
"Despite severe hardships faced by the government of Karnataka, the state will release water as directed by the Supreme Court," Chief Minister Siddaramaiah told reporters on Tuesday at night after nearly a three-hour long all-party meeting even as opposition leaders from BJP and JDS opposed the move.
He also said the state would approach the Supreme Court with a modification petition explaining its difficulties in implementing its order, directing release of 15,000 cusecs per day to Tamil Nadu for next ten days, and seeking change in it and also move the Cauvery Supervisory Committee.
The Chief Minister said it would be "difficult" for a Constitution-bound state to defy the Supreme Court order or to refuse release of water. "With a heavy heart", it has been decided to provide water to Tamil Nadu even though the state itself was facing a "very severe distress" year, he said.
Seeking to assuage the feelings of protesting farmers in the Cauvery heartland of Mandya and other districts in the basin, he said all efforts would be made to provide drinking water to Bengaluru and other places as also for crops.
He appealed to farmers to maintain peace and tranquility and not to cause any damage to public property. In Mandya, agitated farmers and activists belonging to pro-Kannada outfits blocked Bengaluru-Mysuru Highway as protests intensified in the wake of the apex court directive to the state to release Cauvery water.
Mandya district, the nucleus of Cauvery politics, saw a bandh with protesters holding road blockades and dharnas at several places, as hundreds of security personnel, including Central forces, were deployed in the Cauvery belt to maintain law and order.
Prohibitory orders have been clamped around the Krishnarajasagar Dam and entry of visitors to it prohibited till September 9, as the Cauvery row hotted up after Supreme Court directive on a petition by Tamil Nadu government. The court has directed Karnataka to release 15,000 cusecs of water for the next 10 days to address the plight of the farmers in Tamil Nadu.
Protesters also mobbed and ransacked several government offices in Mandya forcing their shut down, while attendance at government offices remained thin, police said. Shops, hotels and other commercial establishments and theatres and hotels remained shut and schools and colleges declared a holiday in Mandya district where state run and private buses were also off the roads on Tuesday.
Protests were also held by farmers in Mysuru and Hassan districts, fed by the Cauvery, demanding that Karnataka should not release water. G Madegowda, President of Cauvery Hita Rakshana Samithi, the body spearheading the agitation, criticised the chief minister and irrigation minister for their "irresponsible" behaviour over the Cauvery issue.
In Bengaluru, some theatres stopped screening of Tamil movies as a "precautionary" step in view of the protests over Cauvery issue. Siddaramaiah said the state had told the Supreme Court during the recent hearing that it was willing to release 10,000 cusecs for six days but it directed release of 15,000 cusecs for 10 days.
Meanwhile, political parties in Tamil Nadu demanded that the Siddaramaiah government comply with the court directive and suggested Chief Minister Jayalalithaa lead an all party delegation to Delhi to meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi over the issue. DMK President M Karunanidhi said the court order directing 15,000 cusecs for ten days "is certainly not enough for samba crops.
(All images sourced from PTI)
(With inputs from PTI)