In his letter, SM Krishna has urged the PM to stop the further release of Cauvery water to Tamil Nadu. He has also asked him to seek a report from the team that has been deputed to assess the water situation in the two states. "I would kindly urge upon you to explore possibilities of stopping further release of water from dams in Karnataka and also call for an interim report of the team of experts", he has said in his letter. The minister hails from Cauvery basin district of Mandya, the epicentre of the protests over the water dispute. (Read: Full letter)
Highlighting the shortage of water in Karnataka, Mr Krishna has said, "I sincerely feel that the situation needs your immediate attention, if it is to be prevented from worsening, as there is already a strong feeling among people of Karnataka that they may have to face severe shortage of water in the months to come. The entire state is waiting with bated breath to get immediate relief as otherwise it will spell disaster for the population in the Cauvery basin." Mr Krishna is currently on an official visit to the US. (Read: SM Krishna urges Prime Minister to stop further release of water to Tamil Nadu)
BJP leaders in the state including former Chief Minister BS Yeddyurappa have been criticising four union ministers representing Karnataka, particularly Mr Krishna, for their "failure" to convince the PM about the shortage of water in the state. They have described Mr Krishna's intervention as "too late." Speaking to NDTV, Mr Yeddyurappa said today, "He (SM Krishna) should be protesting in Karnataka, not sitting in America."
Today's bandh saw a near total impact in Bangalore and the Cauvery basin districts of Mandya, Mysore and Chamarajanagar. It was supported by the ruling BJP as well as the opposition Congress and Janata Dal-Secular.
The 12-hour shutdown began at 6 am. Almost all schools, colleges, offices and shops in Bangalore and the Cauvery basin districts were closed, roads were empty, state transport buses and autos did not ply. Metro trains were however running on time. Cinema houses were closed as the Kannada film industry also supported the bandh. Cable TV operators too joined the stir.
Peaceful protest marches and "rasta roko" demonstrations were being held in Mandya and Mysore districts. The Chamundi Express was stopped at Srirangapatna and not allowed to proceed to Mysore. A large number of security personnel were deployed across the state to ensure peace during the shutdown. 17,000 policemen kept vigil in Bangalore alone.
The protest was held against the September 19 decision of the Cauvery River Authority (CRA) that directed Karnataka to release 9,000 cusecs of Cauvery water to Tamil Nadu daily from September 20 to October 15. The CRA is chaired by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. Karnataka, however, started releasing water only last Saturday after a directive from the Supreme Court, which pulled up the state government for not obeying the CRA order.
The state has been witnessing daily protests and demonstrations since Sunday over the CRA order. The protests are mainly being held in Bangalore, Mandya, Mysore, and Chamarajanagar.
A team of central government officials is currently visiting the Cauvery basin areas to assess water availability and requirement of Karnataka. Another team is visiting Tamil Nadu for the same purpose. The two teams are expected to submit their reports within a week to the central government.
Karnataka has moved the Supreme Court to seek review of the CRA's "impractical" order. The state's petition says that Karnataka is having a "distress water year". Tamil Nadu, which faces perennial water shortage, has said that it needs water urgently to save its crops. The Supreme Court will hear the petition again on Monday.
(With Inputs from Agencies)