Over 40 flights were cancelled at the Bengaluru airport and educational institutes were shut on Friday as a bandh called over the Cauvery water dispute disrupted normal life in parts of Karnataka, NDTV reported.
The bandh was called by Kannada Okkoota, an umbrella outfit of pro-Kannada and farmers’ groups. A Bengaluru bandh was also observed on Tuesday.
The shutdown on Friday was called against an order of the Cauvery Water Regulation Committee directing Karnataka to release 3,000 cusecs of water to neighbouring Tamil Nadu from September 28 to October 15. A cusec is one cubic foot or 28 cubic litres per second.
The Karnataka government had said on Wednesday that it would challenge the directive in the Supreme Court.
On Friday, Chief Minister Siddaramaiah told reporters that he would hold a meeting with retired judges to consult on taking the matter to the Supreme Court. He also said that the state government has presented its side to the Cauvery Management Authority, ANI reported.
On account of the shutdown on Friday, 44 flights scheduled to take off and land at the city’s Kempegowda International Airport were cancelled. Of these, 22 were incoming flights while 22 were outgoing ones.
Airport authorities issued an advisory stating that they anticipated disruption in transport services. “Passengers are advised to plan their travel to and from the airport accordingly,” the advisory read.
Schools and colleges remained shut in the districts of Bengaluru Urban, Mandya, Mysuru, Chamarajanagara, Ramanagara and Hassan. The authorities imposed prohibitory orders under Section 144 of the Code of Criminal Procedure in these districts, PTI reported.
Most shops and eateries in the southern districts of Karnataka remained shut. State-owned transport corporations operated very few buses in the region due to the strike.
Visuals on social showed deserted streets and closed shops in Bengaluru.
In Mandya, demonstrators blocked railway tracks in protest against the Cauvery water panel’s direction. In the Chitradurga district, protestors set fire to a portrait of Tamil Nadu Chief Minister MK Stalin.
Deputy Chief Minister DK Shivakumar said that the shutdown was peaceful and that citizens were cooperating with the authorities, ANI reported. However, he added: “We requested the institutions not to call for a bandh since there is no consent from the Supreme Court or High Court.”
Over 200 detained in Bengaluru
The Bengaluru Police detained over 200 protestors from various parts of the city, including the airport, The Indian Express reported.
Among those taken into preventive custody was Vatal Nagaraj, the leader of the Kannada Okkuta.
Over 1,900 associations are supporting the bandh on Friday, according to NDTV. Among them are the Auto Rickshaw Drivers Union and Ola Uber Drivers and Owners Associations.
The Federation of Karnataka State Private Transport Association, which represents 32 private transport unions, has also announced its moral support to the protest.
Cinema halls across the state cancelled shows till the evening as the Karnataka Film Exhibitors Association extended its support to the bandh.
Several information technology companies and other private firms in Bengaluru told employees to work from home.
What led to the protests?
The protests began after the Supreme Court, on September 21, upheld an order of the Cauvery Water Management Authority, directing the Karnataka government to release 5,000 cusecs of water per day to Tamil Nadu till September 27.
The distribution of Cauvery water has been a long-standing dispute between Tamil Nadu and Karnataka. It dates back to two agreements in 1892 and 1924 between the erstwhile Madras Presidency and the Princely State of Mysore.
The Union government set up the Cauvery Water Disputes Tribunal in 1990, which delivered its verdict in 2007. The tribunal allocated 419 thousand million cubic feet of water per year to Tamil Nadu and 270 thousand million cubic feet of water to Karnataka.