Kannada organisations and farmers have called for two bandhs in Karnataka in the next two weeks to protest against the non-implementation of the Kalasa-Banduri dam project. The project will divert water from the Mahadayi river to districts in North Karnataka, which depend on the river for drinking water.

They have planned a statewide shutdown on January 25, and a Bengaluru bandh on February 4, when Prime Minister Narendra Modi will visit the city for the Bharatiya Janata Party’s Parivartan Rally. Modi was earlier scheduled to visit the city on January 28. The protestors have also decided to wave black flags when Modi arrives in the state Capital, The Times of India reported.

Over 2,300 pro-Kannada groups have supported the call for the shutdown, claimed Vatal Nagaraj of the Kannada Chalavali Vatal Paksha, according to Deccan Herald.

In December 2017, five districts of north Karnataka came to a standstill as farmers observed a strike to make similar demands. Their strike came soon after Goa Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar said on December 21 that his state was ready to share a “reasonable and justified” amount of water from the Mahadayi river with Karnataka for its drinking water needs.

Karnataka and Goa have been fighting over the waters of the river for decades. The Mahadayi originates in Karnataka but passes through Goa to meet the Arabian Sea.

The dispute

Karnataka wants to divert a meagre 7.56 tmcft water from its contribution to the Mahadayi basin to Malaprabha dam to take care of the acute water shortage of Hubballi and Dharwad and about 180 villages near the dam. After necessary approval from the water resources ministry in 2002, Karnataka announced its plans to build two barrages on Mahadayi’s tributaries, Kalasa and Banduri.

Goa, however, objected to the plan and approached the Supreme Court in the same year. Goa believes the proposed water diversion would not only affect the water needs of the people, it would also affect the sensitive ecology of the Western Ghats.