Even as a five-member team of central government officials visited the Cauvery River basin to assess water availability and requirement of Karnataka, the protest against the release of water to Tamil Nadu intensified on Friday.
Several religious leaders, members of Kannada film industry, various Kannada organisations and politicians including former Karnataka chief minister BS Yeddyurappa joined the protest by taking out rallies and marches all over the state. The Bangalore Metropolitan Transport Corporation withdrew its services partially in several areas in the city as a precautionary measure.
The central team arrived here on Thursday and held talks with state officials. Chief secretary SV Ranganath and senior officials of water resources and agriculture ministries explained to the team about the water storage levels in reservoirs against the backdrop of deficient rainfall and drinking water requirements of Bangalore.
Another team is visiting Tamil Nadu for the same purpose. The two teams are expected to submit their reports within a week to the central government.
Thousands of activists of the regional outfit ‘Karnataka Rakshana Vedike’ took out a march from the National College grounds to Freedom Park in the city centre. A number of religious leaders and a few Kannada film actors joined the march to demand immediate halt to the release of water to Tamil Nadu in view of the state facing worst drought conditions in 40 years.
Karnataka has been releasing 9,000 cusecs of Cauvery water to Tamil Nadu since Saturday (September 29) on the direction of the Supreme Court.
Yeddyurappa, who began a day-long dharna near the Mahatma Gandhi statue on M G Road in the heart of the city to protest the Cauvery River Authority (CRA) order, demanded that the Prime Minister withdraw his order immediately.
Addressing the gathering, Yeddyurappa attacked his party government in the state headed by Jagadish Shettar for not properly fighting the state’s case with the central government.
Yeddyurappa also blamed the Congress-led UPA government for ignoring the state’s needs and attacked central ministers from Karnataka for failing to protect the state’s interests. The Janata Dal-Secular also took out a rally in the city demanding immediate stoppage of water release.
Meanwhile, Kannada organisations have called for a Karnataka bandh tomorrow. The Bangalore Wholesales Food Grains and Pulses Association has expressed support to the state bandh and the Yeswanthpur market yard will be closed on Saturday.