Thursday’s statewide bandh is likely to disrupt daily life in Karnataka as several Kannada and farmer outfits protest against the “Centre’s apathy” towards the Mahadayi dispute.
Private schools and state government offices are expected to remain closed during the bandh. The Associated Management of Primary and Secondary Schools in Karnataka has asked private schools to keep the safety and security of staff and students in mind while deciding whether to remain closed or stay open. Various IT offices in Bengaluru have also asked their employees to work from home or to take the day off.
However, transport services such as buses and cabs are likely to stay on road. Several app-based taxi services have also clarified that they would function normally.
The bandh has garnered support from Karnataka State Government Employees’ Association — an organisation which claims to represent more than 6 lakh workers from across the state — and Karnataka Film Chamber of Commerce.
BJP, which is in Opposition in the state, has already termed the call for bandh, one on January 25 and other February 4, as “politically motivated”. The party alleged that the Congress government had a role in the selection of dates as party national president Amit Shah and Prime Minister Narendra Modi are expected to visit the poll-bound state on those days to take part in the ‘Nav Karnataka Parivartan Yatra’, organised by the state unit. Shah will address a rally in Mysuru on Thursday.
The outfits have announced the strike in order to put pressure on the state and central governments to resolve the Mahadayi water-sharing dispute. They are protesting against the non-implementation of the Kalasa-Banduri dam project, which will divert water from the Mahadayi river to districts in North Karnataka.
The project is being undertaken to improve drinking water supply to the twin cities of Hubballi-Dharwad and districts of Belagavi and Gadag. Attempts made by Karnataka to amicably resolve the issue pending before the Mahadayi Water Disputes Tribunal through discussion have failed to bear fruit. Repeated efforts by the state seeking Prime Minister’s intervention to solve the issue has also not been successful.