Bandh over Cauvery issue cripples normal life in B'luru, other parts

Bengaluru, Apr 18: Normal life in the city and several other parts of Karnataka was thrown out of gear by a statewide dawn-to-dusk bandh called by pro-Kannada outfits to protest Tamil Nadu's opposition to Mekedatu project across the inter-state Cauvery river.

The country's IT hub was bereft of the usual hustle and bustle with buses, taxis and autorikshaws staying off the roads and shopping malls, cinema theatres, hotels and petrol bunks and other commercial establishments remaining shut.


The city's roads, known for notorious traffic snarls, wore almost a deserted look. [Karnataka bandh explained: The Mekedatu row and the state hiatus]

Attendance in government offices, including Vidhana Soudha, the state secretariat, was badly hit by the bandh from which essential services like hospitals and milk supply were exempted.

The bandh evoked a good response in southern parts of the state, including Mysuru, Tumkuru, Mandya and other places, but northern and coastal Karnataka were less enthusiastic, giving only a partial response.

Bengalore Metropolitan Transport Corporation withdrew its services and Karnataka State Road Transport Corporation did not ply buses from the city, leaving thousands of people stranded.

The project envisages building a balancing reservoir across the Cauvery near Mekedatu to use the water to generate power, and supply drinking water to Bengaluru and its neighbouring districts, to which Tamil Nadu is opposed, seeing it as detrimental to its interests.

Farmers' bodies in Tamil Nadu had called for a state bandh on March 28 and the Assembly there had adopted a unanimous resolution, urging the Centre to rein in Karnataka from going ahead with its plan to build the dam across the inter-state river.

"Let Tamil Nadu or any one create any kind of fuss or raise any kind of objection on this issue, there is no question of stopping the Mekedatu project. We will go ahead with it," Chief Minister Siddaramaiah declared. 

"In this (state) budget we have made an announcement. We have sought a detailed project report. Once we get it, we will go ahead with the work," he told a delegation of pro-Kannada organisations led by Vatal Nagaraj, whose outfit spearheaded the protest.

Pro-Kannada organisations led by Nagaraj led a protest march in the city from Town Hall to Freedom Park in which thousands of people took part and shouted slogans against the Tamil Nadu government.

They submitted a memorandum to the Chief Minister, demanding immediate implementation of the Mekedatu project.

Elaborate security arrangements were in place and no untoward incident was reported, police said.


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