Bangalore: The agitation against release of Cauvery river water to Tamil Nadu hit Bangalore on Friday with religious leaders, Kanndada film actors, members of Kannada organizations and politicians taking out rallies. The rallies coincided with the visit of a team of central government officials to Cauvery basin areas in the state to assess water availability and the requirements of Karnataka. The two-member team arrived here on Thursday and had talks with state officials. 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.
Several thousand activists of 'Karnataka Rakshana Vedike' (Karnataka Protection Forum) took out a march from National College grounds in south Bangalore to Freedom Park in city centre. A number of religious leaders and a few Kannada film actors joined the march organized to demand immediate halt to release of water to Tamil Nadu in view of Karnataka facing worst drought in 40 years.
Karnataka has been releasing 9,000 cusecs of Cauvery water to Tamil Nadu daily since last Saturday on the direction of the Supreme Court. The apex court directive followed Karnataka's refusal to release water from Sep 20 to Oct 15 as ordered Sep 19 by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh as head of the Cauvery River Authority (CRA). Karnataka has appealed to the prime minister to withdraw the order and has also filed a petition in the Supreme Court for relief as water in state reservoirs across Cauvery were just enough to meet its needs till next June when monsoon season begins.
Former Karnataka chief minister B.S. Yeddyurappa of Bharatiya Janata Party, along with scores of his supporters, staged a day-long "dharna" (sit-in) near Mahatma Gandhi statue on Mahatma Gandhi Road in the heart of the capital. Addressing the gathering, he attacked his party government in the state headed by Jagadish Shettar for not properly fighting the state's case with the central government. Yeddyurappa also blamed the Congess-led central government for ignoring Karnataka's needs and attacked central ministers from Karnataka for failing to protect the state's interests.
The Janata Dal-Secular also took out a rally in the city demanding immediate stoppage of water release.