'Bengaluru Bandh' began from 6 am today, September 26, with several pro-Kannada organisations, farmer groups and labour unions protesting the release of Cauvery water to Tamil Nadu at the rate of 5,000 cusecs per day on the orders of the Supreme Court. Shanthakumar and other leaders of the 'Karnataka Jala Samrakshana Samiti were detained by the police at the Mysuru Bank circle, as they were trying to hold a protest march towards Town Hall.
The bandh saw a partial response in the city. Though cab services, autos and hotels/ restaurants were seen operating, drivers and hotel operators said not many people were coming out to utilise the services. Similar was the case with government-run buses.
While Bengaluru police stated that no permission for a bandh, or protest or a demonstration has been given, section 144 has been imposed across the city until midnight.
The years-old Cauvery water dispute between Karnataka and Tamil Nadu has once again flared up amid deficient rainfall in Cauvery catchment area and resulting water scarcity problems.The situation escalated after the Supreme Court refused to intervene with orders of the Cauvery Water Management Authority and Cauvery Water Regulation Committee, directing Karnataka to release 5,000 cusecs of water to neighbouring Tamil Nadu.
In the 87th Meeting of Cauvery Water Regulation Committee (CWRC) today, Karnataka stated that it is not in a position to release any water from its reservoirs or contribute any flows from its reservoirs to the flows to be maintained at the interstate border Biligundlu. While Tamil Nadu in its opening remarks in the meeting has urged CWRS to release 12,500 cusecs.
Why was the bandh called?
The groups who have called for a bandh, are demanding that the Karnataka government not release Cauvery water to Tamil Nadu. Last week, the Cauvery Water Disputes Tribunal (CWDT) asked the Karnataka government to continue releasing 5,000 cusecs of water to Tamil Nadu for another 15 days. While the Karnataka government, which has maintained that there is no water available for releasing into Tamil Nadu, moved the Supreme Court against the order, the top court refused to intervene with the orders.
Who called the Bengaluru bandh today?
The bandh call was given by the Karnataka Jala Samrakshana Samithi, an umbrella outfit of farmer and other organisations. BJP leader B S Yediyurappa said on Monday that the party will support the bandh and will cooperate in whatever way possible.
While earlier, private cab associations of Ola and Uber had expressed support for the bandh, they withdrew support on Monday and functioned normally on the bandh day.
Other organisations including the Karnataka Television Artists’ Association, Karnataka Rakshana Vedike Swabhimani Balaga, Karnataka Karmikara Parishat, Jaya Karnataka, Karnataka Christians’ Association, and Goods Vehicles Drivers and Owners’ Association also declared support for Bengaluru bandh at a press conference on Sunday.
What services will be affected?
According to the Bengaluru Metropolitan Transport Corporation (BMTC), its buses will run on on all the operational routes as usual. There will also be no disruptions of the metro services with the Bangalore Metro Rail Corporation Limited (BMRCL) running its services normally.
Several airlines have issued advisories for people travelling to the airport on Tuesday. "Travel time to Bengaluru airport may take longer than normal due to Bandh declared in Bengaluru. We recommend arriving at least 2.5 hrs before domestic and 3.5 hrs before international departures," IndiGo said in a post on 'X'.
#6ETravelAdvisory: Travel time to #Bengaluru airport may take longer than normal due to Bandh declared in #Bengaluru. We recommend arriving at least 2.5 hrs before domestic and 3.5 hrs before international departures. For flight status, visit https://t.co/TQCzzykjgA— IndiGo (@IndiGo6E) September 25, 2023
Akasa airlines, Spicejet and Vistara have also put out similar advisories.
As auto drivers have pledged support to the bandh call today, a disruption in auto services was expected. Only night auto drivers are present at the usually crowded Majestic BMTC bus stop today, as the bandh call is only between 6 am and 6 pm.
Section 144 has been imposed by the Bengaluru police under which gatherings of more than five people will not be permitted. Although protests are planned at Freedom Park, Raj Bhawan, TownHall by pro Kannada organisations, the Police Commissioner alerted that protests would only be allowed in Freedom Park.
Meanwhile, Bengaluru Urban District Collector KA Dayanand has announced a public holiday for all schools and colleges in the city in view of the bandh.