Mahadayi: Farmers end stir in Bengaluru, shift to North Karnataka

Massive protest planned at Nargund in Gadag dist next month

Mahadayi: Farmers end stir in Bengaluru, shift to North Karnataka

Farmers agitating for resolution of Mahadayi water dispute called off their strike on Wednesday in Bengaluru, but not before knocking the doors of Governor Vajubhai Vala, the Election Commission, Chief Minister Siddaramaiah and former Prime Minister H D Deve Gowda seeking solution.

Farmers, who had camped outside the BJP headquarters in Bengaluru for the last five days, have started going back to their villages in north Karnataka, their leader Veeresh C Sobaradmath said.

But only their Bengaluru leg of protest has been called off. Their agitation will now shift its base to Nargund in Gadag district, where a massive convention will be held in January. The date of the event will be fixed in a week's time.

Under the Raita Sena Karnataka banner, farmers took out a rally and made their first stop at Raj Bhavan. Significantly, farmers trained their guns at all three political parties - the ruling Congress, the opposition BJP and the JD(S). "All three parties are politicising the Mahadayi issue and have not shown any commitment to resolve the dispute. You are the appropriate person to help resolve this inter-state dispute, as we have lost faith in all three parties," read the petition submitted to the governor.  

Chief Minister Siddaramaiah has been given a January deadline to take concrete steps towards dispute resolution. "The CM is not heading a party. He's head of the state. By January, we want the CM to convene an all-party meeting and lead another delegation to the prime minister," Sobaradmath said.

The three-decade-old Mahadayi river dispute involves Karnataka, Maharashtra and Goa. Karnataka has demanded diverting some share of the Mahadayi river from its tributaries Kalasa and Banduri to the drought-hit districts of north Karnataka.

'Letter holds little value'

Goa Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar, in a letter dated December 21 to BJP state president B S Yeddyurappa, stated his government was prepared to part with water. Farmers say the letter holds little value, while Congress and the BJP traded barbs.

"Karnataka has sought 36 tmcft as its share from Mahadayi, which includes 7.56 tmcft for drinking needs, seven for irrigation and 14 tmcft for power generation," Sobaradmath said. "Let there be a consensus first on releasing 7.56 tmcft for drinking water needs. The rest can be decided in the Mahadayi River Water Dispute Tribunal later." The total yield in the Mahadayi is around 200 tmcft, of which about 47 tmcft flows in Karnataka, 160 in Goa and 12 in Maharashtra, he added.

The Tribunal is slated to commence final hearing on the dispute on February 6.

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