Protests have erupted across districts in the Cauvery river basin of Karnataka following the Supreme Court’s refusal to intervene in the directives issued by the Cauvery Water Management Authority and Cauvery Water Regulation Committee. These directives instruct the state to release 5,000 cusecs of water to neighboring Tamil Nadu.
In response to this decision, farmers’ organizations and pro-Kannada groups have organized demonstrations in various locations, including Mysuru, Mandya, and Bengaluru. They are expressing their frustration and calling on the state government not to release water to Tamil Nadu.
One notable protest occurred at Basaveshwara Circle in Mysuru, led by the Karnataka Rajya Raitha Sangha and Hasiru Sene (a farmers’ organization). Demonstrators raised slogans such as “Where is the water to release?” and demanded justice. They have also planned to stage a protest at the Command Area Development Authority office in Mysuru as a symbol of their discontent.
Critics have pointed out that the taluks in the Cauvery and Kabini basins have already been declared as drought-affected. They argue that the orders from the Cauvery Water Management Authority favor Tamil Nadu without considering the water levels in reservoirs, the state of standing crops, and the drinking water needs of Karnataka.
The Karnataka Rakshana Vedike staged a protest in Gandhinagar, urging the state government not to release water to Tamil Nadu under any circumstances. T. A. Narayana Gowda, the chief of the Vedike, referred to this as a “black day” for Karnataka and criticized the Supreme Court for upholding the orders of the Cauvery Water Management Authority. He stated that Karnataka cannot release water due to the dire water situation in its dams, even for drinking purposes. Despite requesting an assessment of the situation, the CWMA in Delhi issued an order, which the Supreme Court upheld, leading to their strong opposition.
Mr. Gowda and numerous Vedike activists were detained and taken away by the police. He urged Chief Minister Siddaramaiah to make a resolute decision in the best interests of the state and refrain from releasing water. He even declared that activists and the public were prepared to go to jail in defiance of the orders, similar to what former Chief Minister S. Bangarappa did in the past by introducing an ordinance to resist such directives.
R. Ashoka, a BJP leader and former Minister, accused Chief Minister Siddaramaiah and Deputy Chief Minister D. K. Shivakumar, who serves as the Water Resources Minister, of betraying the people of Karnataka to protect the political interests of the Congress party. He claimed that the Congress wanted the cooperation of Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M. K. Stalin for parliamentary elections, which led to the release of water at the expense of Karnataka. Ashoka argued that Siddaramaiah and Shivakumar did not engage with the Tamil Nadu government to resolve the issue or make any statements against them, and they only acted after Tamil Nadu took action.
Holding the Congress government in the state responsible for Karnataka’s difficulties regarding the Cauvery issue, Ashoka announced that the BJP would protest and urge the administration to safeguard the state’s interests.
On Monday, the CWMA instructed Karnataka to continue releasing 5,000 cusecs of water to Tamil Nadu for an additional 15 days, in line with a previous recommendation from the CWRC. Karnataka has maintained that it cannot release water to Tamil Nadu, considering its own needs such as drinking water and the well-being of crops in the Cauvery basin areas, citing water scarcity due to deficient monsoon rains.