Farmers Call For Bandh In North Karnataka Over Mahadayi Water Dispute

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Although the issue is "pending before the (river) Tribunal, in principle the state of Goa should not oppose the reasonable and justified quantum of water meant to be utilised for drinking", Parrikar wrote.

Ever since Parrikar's meeting with Bharatiya Janata Party president Amit Shah, along with former Karnataka Chief Minister and senior party colleague B.S. Yeddyurappa and a subsequent statement by the former Defence Minister where he confirmed Goa's willingness to consider Karnataka's plea, despite the dispute being adjudicated by a Central Government tribunal has drawn considerable flak.

The project involves building barrages across Kalasa and Banduri, tributaries of Mahadayi river, to divert 7.56 tmc ft water of to Malaprabha which meets drinking water needs of the region. And now protestors in the northern districts of Karnataka are raising the level of the agitation with this bandh call.

Meanwhile, protest by a group of farmers including women from north Karnataka districts continued near the BJP state office here demanding that party state chief B S Yeddyurappa resolve the issue as promised by him last month.

Home Minister Ramalinga Reddy said, in reality, it is the BJP that is creating mischief in Karnataka today. "We are sounding a note of caution to our own government: If you are going to sell out, then we would not want this ministry", said Vijay Sardesai, president of Goa Forward, an ally of BJP.

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BJP spokesperson, Srinath Shwethadri, told NDTV, "The ball isn't in our court anymore".

Not convinced by this, the protesters accused Yeddyurappa of not keeping up his promise, and called him "betrayer". "But, Yeddyurappa will never become the chief minister again", he said.

They said they will soon be meeting to decide about continuing their protest near the BJP office. The protests were finalized after their talks with state BJP chief, BS Yeddyurappa failed. "Earlier, when Chief Minister Siddaramaiah wrote the Goa CM, he did not reply", Reddy pointed out. The protesters who have gathered under the banner of Karnataka Raitha Sene said though they have been holding protests for more than two years, demanding the implementation of Mahadayi project, their demands have fallen on deaf ears.

Over the past few weeks, Karnataka BJP has put pressure on the party's national leadership to intervene in the Mahadayi dispute, and get Goa to drop its tough stance in the interest of BJP's poll prospects in Karnataka.