Bengaluru: Goa has stopped bus services to neighbouring Karnataka after farmers and pro Kannada groups called a dawn to dusk bandh over the Mahadayi river water sharing dispute. Twenty-three buses, which regularly travel to Karnataka, have been kept off the roads till further orders and buses that go to Hyderabad via Karnataka left early on Thursday morning before the bandh started.
Schools and colleges in Bengaluru remained shut. Although the ruling Congress government had said that buses would run normally, state-owned buses stayed off the roads in the city. But taxis and some auto rickshaws were available to take people around the city. And the Metro services were not affected either.
Confirming that the buses have been pulled off roads, chief of the Goa state transport corporation, Deryk Natto, said it was done in view of security and the services will resume "once the strike is called off"
Several pro-Kannada groups today have called for a bandh demanding Prime Minister Narendra Modi's intervention in the water sharing dispute. Karnataka and Goa who share the waters of the Mahadayi River have been locked in a bitter battle after Karnataka planned barrages and canals to divert the river waters for the northern districts in the state.
The Manohar Parrikar government in Goa has set up a four-member committee to monitor any activity in Karnataka or Maharashtra to divert the Mahadayi river waters. The chief engineer of Goa water resources department, ST Nadkarni, has issued an order saying the monitoring committee will submit "a report every fortnight to the state government; visit the disputed site at least twice a week and immediately alert if any construction activity is noticed".
Goa's water resources minister Vinod Palyekar recently said the state government will file a contempt petition next month in the Supreme Court against Karnataka for allegedly resuming work on a canal at Kankumbi "in violation" of the top court's order. Last year, the Supreme Court had ordered Karnataka to stop construction work on the canal, which aimed at diverting water from the Mahadayi tributary. Goa had claimed that it has "photographic evidence" to support its claim. Karnataka though rejected the allegations.
The Goa government last week told the Mahadayi tribunal that water demand by Karnataka is actually for irrigating its sugarcane fields and not for drinking purposes. Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar had earlier softened his stand indicating he is open to sharing the river waters.
With inputs from agencies