Agitation against canals may gain force

TUMKUR, MAY 20. The farmers' agitation in Tumkur District against the construction of two feeder canals by Andhra Pradesh across the border in Madakashira Taluk in Anantapur District, is likely to turn into a State-wide movement from Monday.

Even as the farmers are planning to intensify their agitation, several public organisations and pro-Kannada outfits have offered support to them. The people are frustrated over the outcome of the all-party meeting, held in Bangalore on Thursday. They feel that the legal recourse to resolve the tangle is time consuming and will not help them the least.

The farmers' euphoria over the announcement by the Minister of State for Higher Education, Dr. G.Parameshwar, in Madhugiri on Saturday that the Centre had asked the Andhra Pradesh Government to stop work on the canals, was shortlived. Soon after Dr. Parameshwar's announcement, Mr. H.K.Patil, Minister for Major and Medium Irrigation, went on record that the State Government had not received any communication from the Centre to this effect. The matter was discussed at the Cabinet meeting on Saturday based on a statement by the Chief Engineer of the Andhra Pradesh Government to a private TV channel.

Leaders of the villagers in G.D.Palya in Madhugiri Taluk and Honnagondanahalli in Sira Taluk, expressed apprehensions about the AP Government heeding to the Centre's directive. They alleged that the BJP-led coalition Government and the Telugu Desam Government in Andhra Pradesh were hand-in-glove, and were trying to buy time by feeding wrong information to the Karnataka Government until the construction of the two canals was complete.

They said: ``It is unfortunate that the Chief Minister, Mr. S.M.Krishna, has not understood the seriousness of the situation, and appears to have left the issue to be handled by his colleagues. We have become orphans in our own State,'' the farmers said.

Protest by Raj fans: Mr. C.N.Ekeswar, President, Dr. Rajkumar Abhimanigala Sangha in Tumkur District, and Mr. G.Narayana Kumar, leader of the Kannada Chaluvali Kendra Samiti, said in a statement on Sunday that they would organise a massive protest rally in Tumkur against the construction of the canals. An effigy of Mr. N. Chandrababu Naidu, Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister, would be burnt, they said.

Earlier, the two leaders held a preparatory meeting, which was attended by the office-bearers of a number of pro-Kannada organisations. Mr. Kavita Krishna, Mr. Gowdankatte Thimmaiah, writers, Mr. K.B.Renukaiah, President, Kannada Sahitya Parishat, Tumkur, Mr. T.R.Sadashivaiah, Mr. Muralikrishna, Mr. T.S.Gatti, Mr. K.Ravikumar, Mr. T.P.Prasanna Kumar, Mr. Gurulinge Gowda, Ms. Rama Ekesh, and Ms. Annapoorna V.Nanjappa, Kannada activists, and Mr. K.P.Mahesh, President, Zilla Suraksha Samiti, were among those, who participated in the meeting. They indicated that protests would be organised all over the State later.

Vatal visits site: Mr. Vatal Nagaraj, leader of the Kannada Chaluvaligars, on Sunday visited the sites where the construction of the two canals is in process and spoke to the villagers in Lingadahalli and Honnagondanahalli. He also held discussions with the officials in the afternoon.

KYCC to stage dharna: Mr. Satish K.Mallanna, General Secretary, Karnataka Youth Congress Committee, announced on Sunday that the KYCC members would stage a dharna in front of the house of Mr. Shashikumar, JD (U) MP for Chitradurga (Sira Taluk is a part of his constituency) from May 23.

Mr. Mallanna said Mr. Shashikumar's party was part of the National Democratic Alliance at the Centre and that he should apprise the Prime Minister, Mr. A.B.Vajpayee, about the ``high- handedness'' of the AP Government.

Parts of Chitradurga District would also be affected by the construction of the two canals, he said, adding ``Mr. Shashikumar has not cared to visit the area even once.''