Mahadayi interim order; protests grow in north Karnataka

Protests intensified on Thursday in several parts of north Karnataka against the Mahadayi Water Dispute Tribunal's interim order rejecting Karnataka's petition seeking 7.56 tmcft for drinking water projects.

Tension gripped most parts of northern Karnataka like Gadag, Hubballi, Dharwad, Haveri, Belagavi where police have made tight security arrangements to prevent any untoward incident.

Shops, commercial establishments and educational institutions at most places remained shut, officials said.

Protests by several organisations and farmers are also being held across the state, including Bengaluru.

Pro-Kannada and farmer associations have called for 'Karnataka Bandh' on July 30 against the interim order.

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

The tribunal, which gave its interim order on Wednesday after hearing arguments from both Karnataka and Goa, had rejected the state's plea citing various grounds including ecological damage that the project may cause.

The Kalasa-Banduri Nala (diversion) project, which will utilise 7.56 tmcft from the inter-state Mahadayi river, is being undertaken by Karnataka to improve drinking water supply to the twin cities of Hubballi-Dharwad and the districts of Belagavi and Gadag.

Reacting to the order, Chief Minister Siddaramaiah had on Wednesday said Karnataka in its petition, asked for 7.56 tmcft for drinking purpose which should have been given priority according to National Water Policy.

Siddaramaiah had led an all party delegation to the Prime Minister seeking his intervention for an out of court settlement of the issue. Karnataka Legislature had also passed a resolution seeking the Prime Minister's intervention.

Goa government had earlier rejected Karnataka's attempt for out of court settlement of the dispute, stating that the people of the state felt it was more prudent to settle the dispute through the Tribunal.

Reacting to the order, BJP leader and former water resources minister Basavaraj Bommai said it was against natural justice.

Claiming that the tribunal has not considered the Central Water Commission's report and also not yet received any assessment, he asked the state government to immediately go before the Supreme Court.

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