The anger of the north Karnataka farmers over the unresolved Mahadayi water dispute took a violent turn when frenzied protestors stormed government offices and blocked National Highways in the Hubballi-Dharwad region on Wednesday.
This, after an all-party delegation from the state led by Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah met Prime Minister Narendra Modi in New Delhi on 24 August to resolve the issue but failed.
The agitation flared up over the reported "lukewarm response" from Modi, dashing hopes of the farmers who had expected Modi to intervene in the Kalasa-Banduri water project. The project is aimed at providing drinking water to the districts of Gadag, Dharward, Belagavi and Bagalkot. The dispute is currently before the Mahadayi Water Disputes Tribunal.
Farmers had called for a 'Dharwad bandh' on Wednesday (26 August). The roads from Hubballi to Nargund on Hubballi-Solapur NH-218 remained blocked, creating traffic snarls. The road from Hubballi to Gadag on Ankola-Gooty NH-63 faced a similar situation.
The Hindu reported violence in Naragund town that saw agitators causing damage and destruction in government offices. Acts of vandalism were also reported in Naragund's mini Vidhana Soudha, bus station, engineering office of Zilla Panchayat, the circuit house and the APMC office. Some buses were also burnt.
N.S. Prasannakumar, Deputy Commissioner of Gadag and K.T. Balakrishna, Superintendent of Police, visited the places and brought the situation under control.
Modi's effigies were burnt along with tyres and there were reports of stone pelting on the property of BJP MLAs Shankar Patil Munenakoppa in Navalgund and C.C. Patil in Naragund.
Many organisations and political parties supported the Dharwad bandh, bringing normal life in the Hubballi-Dharwad region to a standstill.
The Mahadayi water dispute involves Karnataka, Goa and Maharashtra. The Karnataka government wants to build check dams across the Mahadayi river's (Mandovi in Goa) Kalasa-Banduri tributaries that will direct 7.6 tmc (thousand million cubic) feet water via the Malaprbaha river to the four districts.
The 52-member delegation's meeting with Modi on Monday lasted for about 30 minutes, with the PM suggesting the three states and political parties should come to a mutual agreement to resolve the issue.
"The Prime Minister did not give a specific promise. But we hope that he would arrange the meeting of the Chief Ministers of concerned states, to solve the issue," Siddaramaiah was quoted as saying, by The New Indian Express.