Indian state of Karnataka shuts down as protests erupt over Mahadayi river water row

The streets of Bengaluru, Karnataka's capital are deserted during the statewide strike. Photograph:( AFP )

ANI Bengaluru, Karnataka, India Jul 30, 2016, 07.52 AM (IST)
Karnataka, a state in southwest India shut down on Saturday in protest over the Mahadayi Water Disputes Tribunal (MWDT) order that rejected the state's plea for diversion of 7.6 thousand million cubic feet of water from the river to the Malaprabha Basin.

Extra security has been provided to central government offices as the shutdown call given by the Kannada organisation is successful. All commercial establishments, schools, colleges and government offices remained closed while no untoward activities reported yet.

On Friday, state home minister G Parameshwara said that prohibitory orders under Section 144 of the code of criminal procedure (CrPC) have been clamped in Nargund, Navalgund, Hubballi and Dharwad towns.

The Karnataka Film Chamber of Commerce (KFCC) has decided to halt the screening of movies in theatres, movie-shooting schedules, and other film activities today.

The MWDT, headed by Justice JN Panchal had on Wednesday rejected the state's petition for 7.6 tmcft of water from the river, citing various grounds, including ecological damage the project might cause.

On Thursday areas like Hubballi, Dharwad, Gadag, Haveri and Belagavi witnessed violent protests. Incidents of stone-throwing, burning of tyres and effigies and blocking of roads and highways by thousands of farmers, students and pro-Kannada activists were also reported.

Karnataka, which has locked horns with neighbouring Goa on the larger issue of sharing of the Mahadayi river waters between both states, had petitioned the tribunal seeking the release of 7.56 tmcft of water for Kalasa-Banduri Nala project.

The project to supply drinking water to Hubballi-Dharwad, Gadag, Bagalkot and Belagavi districts from the river through the Kalsa-Banduri canals in the Malabrabha basin has remained incomplete due to the decade-long standoff between the two states.

As the 77km-long Mahadayi flows into Goa from Karnataka on the west coast into the Arabian Sea, the former has been objecting over sharing its water, as 52 km of its stretch is in its state and is a lifeline for its people.