North Karnataka farmers call off Mahadayi protest after failing to meet Governor

More than 400 women and some children were part of the protesting group camping at KSR Bengaluru City railway station, after being denied permission to meet the Karnataka Governor. (Express Photo)

Failing to meet Karnataka Governor Vajubhai Vala despite multiple efforts since October 17, more than 800 farmers, who had travelled to Bengaluru from parts of north Karnataka, called off their protest over the Mahadayi issue on Saturday.

The farmers, according to Raitha Sena Karnataka, will now take the agitation "to the next level" in Delhi, by trying to meet the President with their plea.

Pointing out the delay in the state government issuing a gazetted notification of the Mahadayi Water Dispute Tribunal order on water share to Karnataka, the farmers had on Thursday marched towards the Raj Bhavan from Krantiveera Sangolli Rayanna (KSR) Bengaluru City Railway station.

However, protesters alleged they were not allowed to meet the Governor and were forced to wrap up their march, due to which they had to camp on KSR Bengaluru railway station. "We had left our flood-hit houses and our children back home to come to Bengaluru with the hope of meeting the Governor, who we thought would listen to our grievances. We were denied a meeting even though over 400 women and some children were part of our group, " a protester from Belagavi said.

The farmers then decided to stay put on the railway station, hoping they would get an appointment with the Governor.

According to the letter drafted to the Governor, the farmers pointed out that Karnataka, Maharashtra, and Goa should come up with a joint gazette notification to implement the Mahadayi Water Dispute Tribunal's direction to allocate 5.5 tmcft water for drinking purposes and 8 tmcft for power generation to Karnataka in August 2018.

Veeresh Sobaradmath, Raitha Sena Karnataka state president, alleged that politicians from Karnataka failed to implement the allocation despite knowing of the farmers' distress and the Tribunal's directive. "Even as politicians get easy access to the Governor, we (farmers) cannot. With the BJP in power in all three states, the implementation should have been done easily," he said.

Karnataka Pradesh Congress Committee (KPCC) president Dinesh Gundu Rao interacted with protesting farmers on KSR Bengaluru City railway station on Friday. (Express Photo)

Meanwhile, as the farmers braved rains to continue protests outside the railway station, Karnataka Pradesh Congress Committee (KPCC) president Dinesh Gundu Rao visited them Friday evening. Interacting with the farmers, he promised that the issue would be taken up by the Opposition.

Later, on Saturday morning, Karnataka deputy chief minister Govind M Karjol met the farmers asking them to submit the memorandum to the state government. He later said he had appealed to the Governor to allow time to meet representatives of the protesters. However, women representatives were allowed to submit the petition to an officer in the Karnataka Raj Bhavan.

The protesters left Bengaluru Saturday night on the Rani Chennamma Express and Gol Gumbaz Express. During their stay in Bengaluru, the farmers also requested the state government to speed up rehabilitation work in flood-hit areas.