Karnataka will shut down on Friday to protest against the state government releasing Cauvery river water to Tamil Nadu on a Supreme Court directive amid deficit rains.
With political parties also supporting the day-long shutdown called by a federation of over 500 pro-Kannada organisations, including farmers, traders and businesses, security has been stepped up and additional forces deployed across the state to maintain law and order.
In Bengaluru, which solely depends on the river for drinking water to its 10-million denizens, the IT industry, comprising software majors Infosys and Wipro and about 400 multinationals, declared a holiday for its techies in support of the shutdown.
In the absence of buses, taxis, autos and other vehicles, there will be no public transport from dawn-to-dusk in cities and towns across the state.
The Karnataka government has declared a holiday for all schools and colleges to prevent inconvenience to students and teachers.
Though government offices will remain open, attendance is likely to be thin in the absence of public transport, including metro services in Bengaluru.
Banks, shops, markets, malls, hotels, bars, pubs, eateries, restaurant, theatres and petrol bunks will also remain closed during the day.
“As releasing water has stirred the sentiments of the people, we do not oppose the bandh (shutdown), but it should be peaceful,” Chief Minister Siddaramaiah told reporters here and appealed to the people not to damage public property.
Essential supplies, including milk and medicines, have been exempted from the shutdown. Ambulances will be allowed to ferry patients to hospitals.
Train and air passengers departing or arriving in the city will have to depend on private vehicles for commuting from railway stations and airport or be stranded till evening in the absence of buses, cabs and autos.
Bowing to the apex court’s Monday order, the state began releasing daily 15,000 cusecs from early Wednesday from Krishna Raja Sagar (KRS) and Kabini reservoirs across the river basin for 10 days amid protests and demonstrations by farmers, traders and youth in the Mysuru region.
Admitting that frequent shutdowns cause inconvenience to the public, Kannada Okkuta (federation) president Vatal Nagaraj said there was no alternative to protest against injustice and failure of the government in protecting the interests of the people, especially farmers.