Disillusioned with the stance of both Congress and BJP governments regarding the Mahadayi river dispute between Karnataka and Goa, farmers in Karnataka have joined hands to form a political party, Jana Samanyara Paksha. A woman farmer, Nimbevva Ramanna Dore inaugurated the party by watering a sapling at the pilgrimage center Kudala Sangama, in the presence of more than 50,000 farmers.
The demand of Karnataka farmers for taking up construction of Kalasa-Banduri Nala Project, diverting excess water of Mahadayi River into Malaprabha River has taken a new form. The agitation, which is now more than 800 days old, has led to the formation of a new political party.
For the uninitiated, the Maladayi river row dates back to over three decades. The state of Karnataka has continuously demanded to divert the excess water of Maladayi to Malaprabha River in order to address the drinking water needs in three parched north Karnataka districts of Belagavi, Dharwad and Gadag. In 2002, the Karnataka government led by SM Krishna, decided to implement a drinking water project by building a canal across two tributaries of the Mahadayi – Kalasa and Banduri.
The project aimed to divert 7.56 TMC of water from the Mahadayi to the Malaprabha River in Karnataka. However, Manohar Parrikar-led Goa government argued that the project would cause a huge ecological imbalance in Goa. The work on the Kalasa-Banduri Project has been stalled since then.
At the inauguration ceremony of Jana Samanyara Paksha, renowned poet Chandra Shekhara Patil released a blue print for the Kalasa-Banduri project. Speaking on the occasion, the Party President Ayyappa Ramanna said, “We decided to float a new political party as we realized that the present National Parties or Regional parties have no interest to solve the vexed issue. For us, there was no other option but to enter politics to get things done to protect the interests of farmers.”
Ramanna also expressed a strong opposition to the visit of Goa Minister Vinod Paleykar to the Kalasa-Banduri site in Belagavi district. He questioned, “Why and how was he allowed to visit the project site? Will the Goa government allow our ministers to their site without permission? We realize that Goa is not interested in solving the issue. The political leaders are taking unfair advantage of the issue for their political gains. Now we want to get things solved on our own, and hence we have decided to float a political party.”
Founder President TV Satish, in his address, asserted that under the leadership of BS Yeddyurappa, BJP has been conspiring with JD (S) to eradicate the ‘Lingayat’ community and leave North Karnataka under-developed. “This is the reason why he is not showing any interest in convincing his own party leader and Goa CM Manohar Parrikar to resolve the issue outside the court as directed by the Tribunal,” he said.
Jana Samanyara Paksha is ready to donate Rs 20 Crore to the Kalasa-Banduri Project. According to Ramanna, if the Karnataka government permits, the farmers will also assist in the completion of the project by undertaking ‘shramadaan’.
“If allowed, we will complete the project within 24 days. If the necessity arises, we will also collect Rs 100 from each former for the project,” he said during the inauguration ceremony.