Farmers intensify agitation for irrigation, water projects

Farmers intensify agitation for irrigation, water projects

Want implementation of Mahadayi-Malaprabha, Kalasa-Banduri schemes

Farmers intensify agitation for irrigation, water projects

The farmers’ agitation in northwestern Karnataka for implementation of two major water projects intensified on Monday, with the protesters blocking the busy Kittur Rani Channamma Circle in the heart of Hubballi and holding demonstrations in many towns of Dharwad and Gadag districts.

Farmers have demanded that the government immediately implement the Mahadayi-Malaprabha river-linking project for irrigation and the Kalasa-Banduri nala-linking project for drinking water. Farmers at Nargund in Gadag district have been protesting for the last 27 days, mainly for sanction of the Mahadayi-Malaprabha project which is expected to irrigate farmland in Belagavi, Dharwad, Gadag and Bagalkot districts.
Meanwhile, the agitation for implementation of the Kalasa-Banduri project also intensified. The project aims to supply drinking water to 13 towns in northwestern Karnataka, including Hubballi-Dharwad, Belagavi, Gadag, Haveri and Bagalkot.
Until recently, the agitation was spearheaded by Raitha Sena Karnataka. But other farmers’ organisations and even a few chambers of commerce and industry have joined it too.

Nargund town, which witnessed a shutdown on Sunday, saw a total bandh on Monday too. But educational institutions and government offices functioned as usual. Protesters have called for a shutdown on Tuesday as well.

Navalgund town in Dharwad district too witnessed a total shutdown and shopkeepers put up the shutters voluntarily. Owing to shutdown of these towns, the busy Hubballi-Sholapur national highway was totally blocked from dawn to dusk.

This apart, a bandh at Byahatti village in Dharwad district led to the Dharwad-Navalgund road being blocked. A bandh at Bhadrapur in Gadag district blocked the Hubballi-Gadag-Koppal road. In Hubballi, at least 3,000 college students skipped classes and took to streets, demanding the speedy implementation of the Kalasa-Banduri project.

Farmers from surrounding villages arrived in bullock carts and tractors, and joined the students in a massive protest at the Kittur Rani Channamma Circle, completely blocking traffic at one of the busiest intersections in the State. The intersection is unique in Karnataka as national highways connecting Bengaluru, Pune, Karwar, Gadag and Vijayapura pass through it.

Meanwhile, several organisations under the auspices of Karnataka Vidyavardhaka Sangha, a cultural organisation which in the past led the Karnataka unification movement and the Gokak Chaluvali (agitation), have decided to support the farmers.
 To begin with, they will hold an indefinite dharna (sit-in) outside the deputy commissioner’s office in Dharwad on Thursday.