BENGALURU: Normal life is likely to be affected in Bengaluru and parts of the state on Saturday due to a bandh called by various pro-Kannada organisations, demanding the early implementation of the Kalasa-Banduri Nala project. The project proposes to quench the thirst of the Mumbai-Karnataka region.
The dawn-to-dusk bandh called by Kannada Chaluvali Vatal Paksha and other pro-Kannada outfits is expected to be total since over 1,000 associations, including the JD(S) and Communist parties, are backing it. Lorry Owners’ Association, Taxi Owners’ Association, autorickshaws, private buses and the Kannada film industry will also support the bandh.
While supply of milk and medicines will not be affected, government and private schools have declared a holiday on Saturday and will work the full day next Saturday.
The Federation of Karnataka Chambers of Commerce and Industry decided to close its offices on Saturday. Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) Employees’ Union, Rajya Vokkaliga Sangha and Farmers’ Associations across the state have also extended support to the bandh.
The intensity of the bandh is expected to be more in Mumbai-Karnataka, the epicentre of the protests.
However, the response may be lukewarm in Hubballi-Dharwad, which have already witnessed three bandhs in the last two months.
Similarly, the impact may be limited in the coastal region where the Yettinahole project has become the rallying point, and in the Hyderabad-Karnataka region which is up in arms over the location of the Indian Institute of Technology. “The bandh will be observed from 6 am to 5 pm to send a strong message to the Centre and other parties concerned to find a speedy solution to the dispute as people of North Karnataka are suffering from severe drinking water problem,’’ Kannada Chaluvali Vatal Paksha leader Vatal Nagaraj said.
Farmers of Dharwad, Gadag and Belagavi districts have been protesting for over two months demanding implementation of the project which seeks to divert 7.42 tmcft of water from Kalasa and Banduri streams into the Malaprabha river, the lifeline of the region. Banks will be closed anyway since it is the last Saturday of the month.
Government offices may witness poor attendance since those depending on public transport may not turn up.
What’s Shut: Schools, colleges, buses, autorikshaw and lorry services, eateries, shops, business establishments, petrol pumps, cinema halls Exempted: Hospitals, medical shops, supply of milk Police Bandobast: The police have made elaborate security arrangements across the city for the bandh. More than 4,000 police personnel along with 62 platoons of Karnataka State Reserve Police (KSRP) and City Armed Reserves (CAR) have been deployed.
Pratap Reddy, Additional Commissioner Police (East), said, “Police officials will keep a watch on any incidence of forceful closure by any individual or organisation ... We have identified sensitive areas across the city to prevent any untoward incidents. We have also deputed security personnel to stand around transportation hubs and commercial establishments.”
Several organisations had sought for permissions to carry out rallies from the Town Hall to Freedom Park and it has been granted. “Police will record the rally and if any one tries to disrupt peace or harmony, those anti-social elements will be taken to the custody,” he added.
Though KSRTC and BMTC have officially not withdrawn their buses, services could be hit since the employees’ association is supporting the bandh.