Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah on Tuesday evening said his state would release water from the Cauvery river for Tamil Nadu as per a Supreme Court directive. He added that the state would do so "despite severe hardship", PTI reported. The announcement came even as farmers and activists from across Karnataka staged protests against the Supreme Court order that directed the state government to release 15,000 cusecs of water daily from the Cauvery River to Tamil Nadu for 10 days.
The Cauvery Hitarakshana Samithi (Cauvery Protection Committee) called for a bandh on Tuesday in Mandya, where politics on issues related to the river are commonplace. Around 700 buses from Karnataka to Tamil Nadu and Kerala have stopped plying, and a major highway in Karnataka was blocked during protests, NDTV reported.
Chief of the committee and former MP G Made Gowda said, "We have decided to call for Mandya bandh tomorrow to protest against the court direction to release Cauvery water to Tamil Nadu when there is hardly any water left at our side of the river." Warning the government of strong demonstrations if they released water to Tamil Nadu, the farmers' leader urged state authorities to protect the interests of farmers in Karnataka and file a review petition in the matter at the apex court, NDTV reported.
Pro-Kannada activists staged protests in Bengaluru, Chamrajnagar, Mysuru and Hubballi, as well. Effigies and posters of Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa were burnt in a number of places in these districts, according to the police.
Siddaramaiah, who had said earlier his state was facing an acute water shortage in the Cauvery river basin and could not release water to Tamil Nadu, met leaders of all parties on Tuesday evening to review the situation. The Supreme Court had earlier urged Karnataka to consider sharing water from the river with its neighbouring state.
Troubled by Karnataka's refusal to release water from the Cauvery, despite a court-appointed tribunal ordering the state to do so, farmers in Tamil Nadu had been staging protests against the state. The Cauvery Water Disputes Tribunal had ruled that Karnataka was obligated to deliver 192 thousand million cubic feet of water to Tamil Nadu every year.