People of north Karnataka unhappy over south’s lack of response over their irrigation, developmental issues
The tepid response in Hyderabad Karnataka and its neighbouring districts to the bandh on the Cauvery dispute yet again underlines the disconnect between southern and northern regions, be it on developmental issues or inter-State water sharing.
President of the Hyderabad Karnataka Horata Samiti and former minister Vaijnath Patil feels that leaders and organisations in Old Mysore region have themselves to blame for this. He asks if they have ever actively supported the people of Hyderabad Karnataka on utilising the Krishna waters or on amendment to Article 371 to give special status to the region.
Even leaders of pro-Kannada organisations in the region, which had given a call to join the Statewide bandh, do not hide their displeasure over this indifference. President of the Hyderabad Karnataka Janapara Sangharsha Samiti Lakshman Dasti and president of the Jai Karnataka Rakshana Vedhike Arun Kumar Patil describe as “unfortunate” the Old Mysore region people’s lack of interest in safeguarding the interests of Karnataka in Krishna basin or in correcting regional imbalance.
“The people and organisations have been magnanimous in supporting the cause of the farmers in Cauvery delta and extended support to the bandh call,” says Shivasharanappa Khanadal, divisional president of the Kannada Sene, the only organisation which had organised State-wide protests on the delay in amending the Article 371 of the Constitution.
“Both Cauvery and Krishna water problems have been inter-State issues. People of both areas have been fighting for justice. Yet, when it comes to Cauvery issue, the political parities and pro-Kannada organisations seek our support, but the leaders of old Mysore region never stand by us when we fight for justice. Most of them are not even aware of issues pertaining to water sharing of Krishna river,” says Panchappa Kalburgi, president of Bhima River Water Protection Committee.
People of the region have had issues with Andhra Pradesh and Maharashtra over sharing of water from Alamatti dam, with apportionment of additional water as decided by the Bachawat Tribunal award being a contentious issue.
Echoing similar sentiments, Basavaraj Kumbar, president of Krishna Kanive Neeru Rakshana Horata Samiti, says that it is important for farmers of both regions to have mutual understanding for each others’ problems. He adds that unlike the Cauvery issue, which is beamed 24/7 on media, the problems of Krishna basin find no space.
“While the Cauvery issue is about opposition to the release of fixed amounts of water to Tamil Nadu, the Krishna issue is about deciding the quantum of water to be divided between Karnataka and other States,” says Veerbhushan Nandagave in Bidar, who is a member of the Karnataka Rajya Raitha Sangha for over 30 years, adding that there has been no State-level agitation on this issue.
“The general impression is that the districts in Karnataka are divided among the river basins of Cauvery and Krishna. Very few people even know that Bidar district lies in the Godavari basin,” says Khaji Arshed Ali, journalist and former Member of the Legislative Council. No leaders have sought utilistion of about 25 tmc ft of water available for use in the Godavari river basin.
Social activist Gurunath Wadde feels that the issue goes beyond water dispute and spills into cultural domain. “The unification of the State that started in the 1950s managed to sew together different regions under one banner. But even today many people in Bangalore and Mysore think that the backward districts of Hyderabad-Karnataka are a burden on them.”
(Compiled by Bageshree S. with inputs from T.V. Sivanandan in Gulbarga, Firoz Rozindar in Bijapur and Rishikesh Bahadur Desai in Bidar)