North Karnataka bandh tomorrow on Mahadayi river water issue

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Farmer groups in north Karnataka have called for a bandh on Wednesday demanding the intervention of Prime Minister Narendra Modi to implement a long pending drinking water project by building a canal across two tributaries of the Mahadayi - Kalasa and Banduri. Karnataka is seeking release of 7.56 tmcft water by Goa from the river for the Kalasa-Banduri Nala project, being undertaken to improve drinking water supply to the twin cities of Hubballi-Dharwad and districts of Belagavi and Gadag in the state's northern region. And now protestors in the northern districts of Karnataka are raising the level of the agitation with this bandh call.

The farmers demand Yeddyurappa to ensure an immediate resolution of the Mahadayi water dispute.

In his letter to Karnataka BJP chief B S Yeddyurappa, Goa Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar wrote, "Government of Goa is willing to consider the request to work out an amicable settlement strictly restricted to drinking water only to the drought prone areas".

Meanwhile, addressing a press meet in Haveri, Yeddyurappa said that the Mhadei activists, who have been staging a protest in front of the BJP office in Bengaluru, should vacate the place immediately and hold a dharna in front of the Chief Minister's residence.

The issue, however, caused ripples in Goa after Parrikar's alliance partner Goa Forward Party led by Vijay Sardesai threatened to pull out of the BJP government in Goa and opposed any talks with Karnataka saying that dispute should be resolved only by the Tribunal. He had had promised to solve the issue by the year end.

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BJP spokesperson, Srinath Shwethadri, told NDTV, "The ball isn't in our court anymore".

Talking to reporters on the sidelines of a function in North Goa on Sunday, Goa BJP president and Rajya Sabha MP Vinay Tendulkar said the party was fully with Mr. Parrikar's stand, but added, "The CM has already indicated that this will happen only after the Karnataka elections".

Water wars between states are nothing new. BJP national president Amit Shah is expected to visit Bengaluru on December 31 to hold a core committee meeting about election preparations in the state. "What is the point of writing to the BJP state chief?"

After Mahadayi Bachav Abhiyan (MBA), an organisation working against the diversion of water to Karnataka, the Opposition as well as allies of the government have joined those criticising Mr. Parrikar for his willingness to discuss the issue with Karnataka.

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