Karnataka witnessed a complete shutdown on Saturday, as a mark of protest against the Mahadayi Water Disputes Tribunal's interim order, which rejected the state's plea to release water from the river to the Malaprabha Basin. Vehicles were off roads, and all schools, colleges, commercial establishments, and government offices remained closed, ANI reported. Pro Kannada activists had called for a bandh to express their opposition to the tribunal's verdict.
State Home Affairs Minister G Parameshwara on Friday imposed Section 144 in Nargund, Navalgund, Hubballi and Dharwad towns after violent protests erupted in these places. At least 130 people were arrested on charges on rioting, according to News18, and extra security personnel were deployed to maintain law and order.
Ola and Uber cabs mostly did not operate, and state buses did not ply either. Passengers outside railway stations complained that pre-paid taxi drivers were fleecing them. Metro services, which were open in the morning, were also shut down after members of the Kannada Rakshana Vedike tried to disrupt it, according to The News Minute. The Karnataka Film Chamber of Commerce stopped screening movies at theaters, and most fast food joints halted delivery services. However, a few petrol pumps remained open with police protection.
Karnataka had filed an interim application with the tribunal, seeking 7.6 thousand million cubic feet of water from Mahadayi river that flows into Goa for the Malaprabha Lift Irrigation project. The tribunal, headed by JN Pancha, rejected the plea on Wednesday, July 27, citing reasons such as ecological damage.
The Malaprabha Lift Irrigation project will supply drinking water to the districts of Hubballi-Dharwad, Gadag, Bagalkot and Belagavi from the river through the Kalsa-Banduri canals in the Malaprabha Basin. The project had been stalled for the past 16 years. The 77-km-long Mahadayi river flows from Karnataka into Goa, which has been objecting to sharing its water.