Bengaluru Cauvery Water Protests

We have been in Bengaluru for a week working on our foreign registration, which is a hardy process. On Friday. we spent the day inside submitting an online application. Though our guesthouse accommodations are stellar and the small staff is very friendly and kind, we do not typically confine ourselves indoors, especially when traveling. But on this day, September 9th, not only did we have to complete ridiculous, time-consuming technological stunts involving reducing files sizes and cropping photos, but it was recommended by local authorities and friends that we stay inside on this day due to a scheduled protest, called a bandh, in response to a recent Supreme Court ruling that dramatically increased the amount of water channeled from the state of Karnatka’s Cauvery river to farming land in Tamil-Nadu, a bordering state. Conflict over the Cauvery water dispersion began in the later 19th century and has again come to a head after the Supreme Court ruling last week. From friends, locals and the guesthouse staff and visitors, we gathered that Karnataka (of which Bengaluru is the capital city) has been experiencing a lengthy drought and, as is usually the case, Karnataka’s urban poor and agricultural sectors would be the immediate victims of the ruling, thereby increasing tensions between classes/sectors of the state, opening the possibility for obvious and unpredictable social issues and violence, not to mention the problems that would arise from water shortages in Bengaluru, a city of 9 million people. Citizens of Karnataka worry that having to spare 112200 gallons per second would dry out the state, especially after experiencing over a year of drought.

In an effort to reverse the Supreme Court ruling, the people of Bengaluru organized a peaceful protest on September 9th from 6am-6pm that included strikes by auto rickshaw and taxi drivers, restaurant and shop closures and an increased police presence on the streets. Additionally, groups of protestors paraded Karnataka’s flag, a stunning red and yellow banner, as they drove in massive motorbike groups through the city, chanting and singing. The atmosphere, though intense, was one of bonding and community spirit. Feeling safe and enlivened by the city spirit, we ventured out to document the Bengaluru bandh.

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Peaceful protesters riding through the streets of Bengaluru.

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5 comments on “Bengaluru Cauvery Water ProtestsAdd yours →

    1. Thanks for stopping by Jim, we really appreciate your readership. Let us know if you are interested in a specific topic that we can expand on. Hope to see you here often!

    1. Thanks for reading Kristen, it is a really complex topic that we are interested to see unfold as we spend more time in Bengaluru. Let us know if there are any issues you would like to hear more about.

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