KARNATAKA

Farmers block road at Alamatti

BIJAPUR, JULY 24. Members of farmers' organisations on Saturday staged a rasta roko at Alamatti protesting against the State Government's reported move to release Krishna waters to Andhra Pradesh.

Hundreds of protesters led by the Bijapur MLA, Appasaheb Pattanashetti, and the president of the Krishna Kanive Hitarakshana Vedike, Basavaraj Kumbar, staged a dharna on National Highway 13 disrupting traffic for half an hour.

Addressing the protesters, they said: "We are ready to shed our blood but not part with Krishna waters.''

They reiterated their resolve to take over the operational control of the dam if the Government went ahead with its alleged "secret'' agenda to release water.

Urging the Chief Minister, N. Dharam Singh, to show political will to resist "pressure," they said that if situation warranted, he should resign. The Government should not give in to pressure from the Centre or Andhra Pradesh. It if did, it would affect the survival of the coalition Government, they added.

Meeting sought

The leaders urged Mr. Singh to convene an all-party meeting to discuss the issue, and said he should take a delegation to Delhi to convince the Centre about State's inability to release water.

Doubting the bona fide of Andhra Pradesh's move, they said that they had information that the storage in dams in that State was quite satisfactory. The timing of the demand for a huge quantity water had caused doubts about that State's intentions. To ascertain whether Andhra Pradesh really needed water, a technical team would be sent for an assessment of the storage in the reservoirs there.

Mr. Pattanashetti and Mr. Kumbar said it could not be easily forgotten that Karnataka had to restrict the height of the Alamatti Dam to 519.6 metres instead of 524.256 metres as planned originally, and wondered how Andhra Pradesh could seek water.

Referring to a press release from the Press Information Bureau that said that the Chief Minister had agreed to release water, Mr. Pattanashetti alleged that the Industries Minister, P.G.R. Sindhia, misled the House on Friday by saying that the Government had not taken a decision. In the wake of contradictory statements, the Chief Minister had to clarify whether he had made a commitment to release water.

Farmers' patrol

The agitators decided to ensure round-the-clock "patrol" at the Alamatti and Narayanapur dam sites to prevent release of water.

Earlier, the agitators staged a demonstration in front of the office of the Chief Engineer of the Alamatti Dam Zone of Krishna Bhagya Jala Nigam Ltd. (KBJNL) at the dam site. They took out a procession to the main office of KBJNL at Alamatti, and handed over, to an official of the organisation, a memorandum addressed to the Chief Minister.

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