A month before the Lok Sabha elections, the Mahadayi river water dispute has come to once life again. On Friday, a group of farmers held a meeting in Belagavi where they decided to force the Union and State governments to begin work on the project “by removing all hindrances to it”. They vowed to demolish the wall across an underground canal built by the State Irrigation Department to stop the flow of water from the Kalasa Nala to the intended water storage site. They marched to the Kalasa-Bandori irrigation project area in Kanakumbi near Khanapur. But Belagavi Police stopped them and pleaded with them to return.
When the farmers argued that they were trying to bring pressure on the Union and State governments to begin work on the project, the police said that the project was yet to get complete clearance from the government agencies concerned.
Assistant Commissioner of Police Narayan Baramani told the protestors that they could not take the law into their hands even when if their intentions were right.
The protestors were stopped at Kanakumbi.
Karnataka Rajya Raitha Sangha leader Sidagouda Modagi said that the Union and the State governments had both betrayed the farmers and they had gathered to send warning signals to the two governments. Mahadayi will be a major poll issue for Mumbai Karnataka region in this Lok Sabha elections,’’ he said.
Shankar Ambali said that seven months ago the Mahadayi tribunal had approved the project and allowed the State to utilise 13 tmcft of water. The State government is not showing interest in Mahadayi. It is worried about Mekedatu situated in South Karnataka, he said.
Siddu Teji warned of an intensified agitation if the project was not started on time. Earlier, at the Kannada Sahitya Sangha, farmer leaders from Belagavi, Dharwad, Bagalkot and other districts decided to continue the agitation till a final solution was found.