Bengaluru: Hundreds of people, especially farmers on Monday staged protest demonstrations in the Mysuru region against the Supreme Court order to Karnataka for releasing 15,000 cusecs of water daily for 10 days to Tamil Nadu.
The protesters at Mandya, about 100km from here, blocked the vehicular traffic on the busy Bengaluru-Mysuru state highway by burning discarded tyres and effigies of Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J. Jayalalithaa and placing barricades at many places enroute.
About 100 farmers stood knee-deep in the Cauvery river at Srirangapatna near Mysuru, threatening to hold ‘jal satyagraha’ (agitation for water) to prevent the state government releasing water from the nearby Krishnaraja Sagar Reservoir (KRS), built across the river basin.
“We will not allow the state government to release water at any cost from the half-empty reservoirs as we don’t have enough water for our fields and drinking water,” said Karnataka Rajya Raitha Sangha leader Nanjungowda at Mandya.
Farmers, traders, students and political leaders have called for a shut down in Mandya district on Tuesday in protest against the apex court order, which will deplete the water level in the KRS further, affecting supply to fields and taps.
“At the rate of 15,000 cusecs daily, if the state has to release 10.3 tmcft of water for 10 days, there will not be enough water in the river to meet even the drinking water needs of Bengaluru, Mandya and Mysuru, as reservoirs in the catchment areas are half empty due to deficit monsoon,” farmers’ leader Made Gowda told reporters at Mandya.
One thousand million cubic feet (tmcft) of water is equivalent to 28,317 million litres of water. A cusec, which is a measure of flow rate of water per second, is equivalent to a flow of 28.317 litres per second.
According to the state water resources department, due to deficient rainfall during the southwest monsoon this year, the four reservoirs in the Cauvery basin have only 55 per cent of the water.
“As against the combined 104 tmcft storage in the river basin, the KRS, Kabini, Hemavat and Harangi reservoirs have only 51 tmcft of water due to insufficient rains in August,” an irrigation department told IANS here.
The farmers’ organisation urged the state government to file a review petition in the Supreme Court against its Monday order, and instead, send a fact-finding committee to assess the water levels in the reservoirs across the river basin.
Meanwhile, Chief Minister Siddaramaiah has convened an all-party meeting here on Tuesday to discuss the apex court order.
“We are waiting for the copy of the Supreme Court order, which is expected to reach us by Tuesday morning. We will discuss the next course of action with our lawyers and legal advisors and apprise the other political parties, lawmakers and central ministers from the state,” Siddaramaiah told reporters here.