BENGALURU: If there was enough political will to solve the inter-state water disputes, the state could do away with at least seven to eight bandhs in the past three years, say experts. Instead, these bandhs have kept the controversies alive for the sake of vote-bank politics, they said.
The Cauvery water sharing issue goes back at least 10 decades, right from the time of the Madras Presidency, the Kingdom of Mysore, to the present dispute between the Karnataka and Tamil Nadu state governments. The Krishna river dispute is at least five decades old and the Mahadayi water dispute dates back 40 years.
Hundreds of protests and bandhs have been unable to solve the issue and even approaching the doors of the apex court has not led to a solution till date. According to Captain S Raja Rao, an expert on the Krishna and Cauvery disputes, all the bandhs seem to achieve is the torching of vehicles or other violence.
Speaking about the Mahadayi dispute to The New Indian Express, Rao said the tribunal decision was most likely to be in Karnataka’s favour as it was a drinking water issue. “Knowing this, the Central government is not pressurising the Goa government and unfortunately, state BJP leaders are also staying quiet. They must have the courage to resign their seats to bring pressure on the Centre,” he opined, adding that the story was the same during the UPA reign.
Rao also said that these bandhs do not receive support from across the state. The severity of the bandh depends on the issue and the regions affected, he said. “Not just region wise, even politically, parties protest only for politicising the issue. No one wants a solution. With the elections approaching, this issue will be kept alive,” he predicted.
Even Karnataka Rajya Raitha Sangha president Kodihalli Chandrashekar said bandhs were not a solution for inter-state river disputes. “Under parliamentary system, they have the power to resolve the issue but none of the MPs have put pressure on the Union government. When they fail, naturally, citizens will take to the streets,” he said. A senior BJP leader said that bandhs related to water disputes were more in Karnataka than other states.