Cauvery protests escalate, all eyes on SC hearing on Monday



Bangalore: Intense protests over release of water to Tamil Nadu continued to sweep Cauvery river basin areas for the eighth day as Karnataka hoped for a "positive response" from the Supreme Court on Monday on its plea for reconsideration of the September 28 order.

The agitators today continued their hunger-strike in Mandya, the Cauvery heartland, and staged a rasta-roko at Maddur-Gejjalagere, disrupting traffic on the Bangalore-Mysore highway. Processions were taken out in Mysore.

Agitated farmers demonstrated at several places in Mandya and Mysore districts, raising slogans against the Central and Tamil Nadu governments.

Chief Minister Jagadish Shettar, accompanied by Law Minister S Suresh Kumar and Water Resources Minister Basavaraja Bommai will hold talks in Delhi with the state's legal team headed by Fali S Nariman.

"I am optimistic of a good (favourable) verdict (for Karnataka)", Shettar told reporters during his visits to Hubli-Dharwad and Belgaum in north Karnataka today.

He said the state would inform the apex court of the severe drought situation in Karnataka, hardship of farmers and drinking water needs of Bangalore, which depends on the Cauvery, among others.

Karnataka has sought stay or modification of the September 28 order which directed it to release 9,000 cusecs daily to the neighbouring state till October 15 as per orders of the Cauvery River Authority, headed by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

Former Chief Minister DV Sadananda Gowda, meanwhile, said government should be ready to take "bold steps" if the apex court verdict on the issue is not in the state's interest and sacrifice the Government if it comes to that.

Gowda said in Mangalore that he told Shettar he should be prepared to face "contempt of court" and "go to jail" if the judgement is not in the state's favour.

Government should not hesitate to quit office if the need arises, he said. The state had observed a dawn to dusk bandh yesterday, called by Kannada outfits against water released to Tamil Nadu.

Karnataka has been releasing water in line with a Supreme Court directive, asking it to abide by the September 19 CRA ruling to spare 9,000 cusces till October 15.

PTI