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Unrest in Tumakuru Over ‘Express Canal’ Project

Tumkur

The political landscape in Karnataka’s Tumakuru district has been rattled by growing unrest, as various groups unite against the state government’s decision to construct an ‘Express Canal’ to divert water from the Hemavathi river to Ramanagara district.

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Protests and Ultimatum

Political leaders, religious leaders, farmer organizations, and independent groups have joined forces to protest near the construction site of the canal in D Rampura, Tumakuru. They have issued an ultimatum to the government, demanding the halt of canal construction by June 5. Failing compliance, farmers threaten to close the canal themselves by filling it with soil. Thousands of farmers from Tumakuru, Gubbi, Turuvekere, Chikkanayakana Halli, and Tumakuru Rural participated in the massive rally, symbolically expressing their opposition by throwing soil into the canal.

Water Dependency and Concerns

Tumakuru, an agrarian district heavily reliant on the Hemavathi River for water, faces significant implications from the proposed diversion. More than half of the district depends on the Hemavathi for potable water and agriculture. The government’s plan to redirect water to Ramanagara via Kunigal has triggered widespread agitation among farmers and citizens.

Project Background and Opposition

The ‘Express Canal’ project, conceived in 2018 during the Congress-JD(S) coalition government, gained momentum just before the 2024 Lok Sabha elections. Deputy Chief Minister and Water Resources Minister DK Shivakumar laid the project’s foundation stone ahead of the polls. However, opposition leaders, including Tumakuru Rural MLA Suresh Gowda, criticize the government’s lack of consultation and accuse ministers of neglecting the interests of Tumakuru farmers. Allegations have surfaced regarding vested interests benefiting certain political figures in Ramanagara.

The Way Forward

The mounting protests underscore the urgent need for dialogue and consensus-building between stakeholders. As tensions escalate, the state government faces pressure to address the grievances of Tumakuru’s farming community while balancing regional development initiatives. Collaborative efforts and transparent communication are essential to navigate the complex dynamics of water politics in the region.

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