Bandh over Cauvery water row affects normal life in Bengaluru

News Network
September 26, 2023

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The Bengaluru bandh called by farmers and Kannada organisations on Tuesday and backed by the BJP and JD(S) in protest against the release of Cauvery river water to Tamil Nadu evoked partial response, with most of the public services functioning normally, but fewer people venturing out.

'Karnataka Jala Samrakshana Samiti,' an umbrella outfit of farmers' associations and other organisations led by farmer leader Kuruburu Shanthakumar, has given the call for today's dawn-to-dusk (6 am to 6 pm) Bengaluru shutdown.

Shanthakumar and other leaders of the 'Karnataka Jala Samrakshana Samiti were detained by the police at the Mysuru Bank circle, as they were trying to hold a protest march towards Town Hall.

Several activists of Kannada organisations were also whisked away by the police at Town Hall, as they gathered there to stage a protest.

Farmers' leaders and Kannada activists hit out at the government for allegedly using police force to curtail the protests and bandh.

Farmers and pro-Kannada organisations are likely to stage a protest at the Freedom Park, which is a designated place for such demonstrations.

City police have taken adequate security measures to respond to any violence that may happen during the protests. About 100 platoons have been deployed.

Bengaluru Police Commissioner B Dayananda said that prohibitory orders under Section 144 are in place across the city from midnight on Monday to midnight on Tuesday in the wake of the bandh.

Also, according to existing restrictions and court orders, there is no permission for any bandh or procession in the city, he said, 'No one can forcefully implement the bandh by using force, other than in cases where someone wants to observe it voluntarily.'

Meanwhile, a Karnataka bandh, a state-wide shutdown, has been called, on September 29 by 'Kannada Okkuta', an umbrella organisation for Kannada organisations, led by Kannada activist Vatal Nagaraj. They are not supporting today's bandh.

Bengaluru Urban district Deputy Commissioner Dayananda K A has declared a holiday for all schools and colleges in the city on Tuesday, in view of the bandh.

Though cab services, autos and hotels/ restaurants were seen operating, drivers and hotel operators said not many people were coming out to utilise the services.

Similar is the case with Bengaluru Metropolitan Transport Corporation (BMTC) buses and Metro rail services, as the usual rush was not seen at bus and metro stations.

Ola-Uber Drivers' Association and Hotel Owners' Association have said that their services will be normal today.

They have extended support for the September 29 Karnataka bandh called by pro-Kannada organisations, stating that in the midst of financial difficulties, they cannot afford to lose two days of work.

Most private companies and firms, including those in the IT sector, asked their employees to work from home.

Some malls in the city have decided to remain shut. Many shops and establishments were also seen not functioning as usual in the morning hours.

The opposition BJP and JD(S) which have been targeting the Siddaramaiah-led Congress government of failing the state by releasing Cauvery water to Tamil Nadu, have supported today's bandh, and have announced that they will take part in the agitation.

With protests intensifying, Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah and Deputy Chief Minister D K Shivakumar on Monday had said the government will not curtail them but underlined the importance of maintaining peace.

Protests have continued in various parts of Karnataka, following the Supreme Court's refusal to interfere with orders of the Cauvery Water Management Authority and Regulation Committee, directing the state to release 5,000 cusecs of water to neighbouring Tamil Nadu.

Farmers organisations and pro-Kannada outfits have been staging protests in Cauvery river basin districts Mysuru, Mandya, Chamarajanagara, Ramanagara, Bengaluru and other parts expressing their anger and urging the state government not to release water to the neighbouring state.

Karnataka has been maintaining that it is not in a position to release water, taking into account its own need for drinking water and irrigation for standing crops in the Cauvery basin areas, as there has been water scarcity due to deficit monsoon rains.

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News Network
July 15,2024

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The Karnataka Congress on Monday junked reports that the State Road Transport Corporation would be hiking bus fares. The party on X noted that transport minister has not placed any such proposals before the government.

The party's account further noted that BJP leaders should 'stop spreading lies' and rather answer about the increase in auto part prices, fuel prices, and train fares in the last ten years.

Karnataka Congress, in the post, continued that people should be allowed to answer about the burden on state governments due to the central government's price hike policy.

BJP leaders like Tejasvi Surya took potshots at the Congress government over news of the alleged fare hike, attributing it to the party's 'Khatakhat Model of Governance.'

KSRTC chairperson, S R Srinivas, however said on Sunday that the body has submitted a proposal to the government to hike the fare by 15 to 20 per cent.

"We had a board meeting two days ago. We have proposed a hike of 15 per cent to 20 per cent. The rest is up to the discretion of Chief Minister Siddaramaiah. If KSRTC is to survive, fare hike is inevitable," he said.

The chairperson also noted that fuel and auto parts have seen prices go up substantially, but there has been no increase in bus fares since 2019.

"The salary revision of the KSRTC employees has not been done since 2020. Hence, increasing the ticket price is necessary," Srinivas added.

As per the chairperson, the corporation has suffered a loss of Rs 295 crore in the last three months.

To a question on whether the hike would burden male passengers since women are allowed to travel free of cost under the 'Shakti' scheme, Srinivas said there is no question of putting burden only on men. He noted that the state government continues to bear the expenses for women travelling in buses.

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News Network
July 16,2024

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Bengaluru: The Karnataka cabinet on Monday approved implementation of the Seventh Pay Commission’s recommendations, effecting a 27.5% increase in basic pay from August 1, 2024, and benefiting 12 lakh state govt employees and pensioners.

The commission, led by former chief secretary K Sudhakar Rao, was constituted in November 2022 with a six month mandate.

The final report was submitted to chief minister Siddaramaiah before Lok Sabha elections were announced in March 2024.

The commission’s recommendations include raising the minimum salary for govt employees from Rs 17,000 to Rs 27,000 a month.

The implementation is expected to widen the revenue expenditure of the Karnataka govt by Rs 20,000 crore annually. The most considerable expenditure will be the burden of Rs 7,409 crore for salaries, followed by Rs 3,791 crore for pensions and family pensions each year.

The decision comes after the previous BJP govt, just before the 2023 assembly elections, granted interim relief with a 17% salary hike for govt employees, leaving the remaining 10.5% for future discussions.

After Congress govt took office, it faced pressure to fulfil five poll guarantees and delayed the decision.

The employees, during an executive committee meeting held recently in Chikkamagaluru, decided to launch a three-phase protest culminating in an indefinite strike planned from July 29. This appears to have pressured the govt.

"We welcome the decision for providing employees with 27.5% salary hike," said Shadakshari, state president of Karnataka state govt employees' association.

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News Network
July 16,2024

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Bengaluru: Dengue cases in Karnataka are inching closer to the 10,000-mark, with the total positive cases as of Monday reaching 9,962 according to the health department's bulletin.

Another death in Shivamogga has brought the total fatalities due to dengue to eight. This is, however, not inclusive of the death of an 11-year-old boy in Bengaluru on July 5 that BBMP officials later confirmed was due to dengue.

Nearly 37 per cent of the all dengue positive cases reported across the state till Monday evening were among those aged up to 18 years. The number of dengue cases among children aged 0-1 years has also been on the rise, with 176 cases reported across the state.

The health department has tested over 73,900 blood samples for dengue so far, testing a few thousand samples every day.

A total of 363 cases were recorded in Bengaluru on Monday, with 35 hospitalisations. This brings the total number of positive cases in the city to 3,487. Suspected dengue cases, where people might be displaying similar symptoms as dengue but would not have yet tested positive for the infection, stood at 19,066 cases.

Between January 1 and July 1, the city recorded 1,563 positive cases with 6,443 suspected cases, according to the bulletin. Within the next two weeks, these numbers doubled to 3,124 and 14,281, respectively.

This, according to Dr Savitha S K, programme head of the vector-borne disease control programme wing of the BBMP, was not any cause for alarm. "We are actively searching for cases during our door-to-door surveys and also passively collecting data from hospitals. Last year, data was lost or not captured accurately, particularly in private hospitals, which did not record the addresses of patients. This impacted our total numbers but we are documenting cases better this year," she said.

Sources in the health department who wished to maintain anonymity noted that some of the underreporting at the city level was also in a bid to avoid panic among residents. Therefore, comparison with data from the previous year would not yield accurate results, they noted.

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