Bengaluru : A Karnataka shutdown called on Thursday disrupted normal life, with buses and taxis keeping off the roads and schools, colleges, offices, hotels, malls and markets remaining closed till evening.
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.
Farmers and pro-Kannada organisations and regional outfits announced the dawn-to-dusk protest seeking Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s intervention to resolve the two-decade-old inter-state water sharing dispute.
The Mahadayi river’s water was needed for drinking and irrigation in the four drought-prone districts of Karnataka, activists said.
Although the shutdown did not affect train and flight operations in Bengaluru, hundreds of passengers were stranded at railway stations and the airport in the absence of state-owned and private buses and taxis.
The few three-wheelers plying in Bengaluru fleeced passengers.
Heavy rush of commuters was witnessed at all the stations of Bengaluru Metro which operated the service on the east-west and north-south corridors.
Though government offices and banks remained open, attendance was thin as employees were unable to commute from their homes in the absence of public and private transport.
Elaborate security has been made with additional deployment of police personnel in cities and towns across the state to ensure a peaceful shutdown.
Essential services like hospitals, supply of milk, sale of vegetables and fruits and medical shops were available to avoid inconvenience to the public.
The bandh has remained peaceful so far with few incidents of stone pelting reported in diferent parts of Bengaluru.
The 77-km Mahadayi or Mandovi river originates at Bhimgad in the Western Ghats in Belagavi district and flows into neighbouring Goa, eventually joining the Arabian Sea.
Though the river runs 29 km in Karnataka and 52 km in Goa, its catchment area is spread over 2,032 km in the southern state as against 1,580 km in Goa.
Karnataka has been asking Goa since 2001 to release 7.6 thousand million cubic feet of the river water to meet the drinking needs of its people in the drought-prone districts and irrigating the farmlands.
Karnataka plans to build two canals at Kalasa and Banduri, which are the tributaries of the river in the state, to divert and supply the water to the four districts.
The Mahadayi Water Disputes Tribunal, headed by J.N. Panchal, on July 28, 2016 rejected Karnataka’s petition for releasing the water, citing various grounds including ecological damage the twin canal projects might cause.