Bengaluru: Sandalwood stars lend support to Kalasa-Banduri agitation

Bengaluru/Hubballi (dhns):  The vexed Mahadayi river water sharing issue, which includes the Kalasa-Banduri drinking water project for parts of North Karnataka, got a shot in the arm with the entire Kannada film fraternity converging on Hubballi to root for the cause.

This is the first time in many years that Sandalwood has come together in such large numbers to show its solidarity. Interestingly, after a gap of three decades, the Mumbai-Karnataka region is all set to have the industry taking part in a popular movement.

On Saturday, as many as 400 individuals from the filmdom including artistes, producers, directors and technicians, landed in Hubballi, where they will stage a protest rally on Sunday, pressing for speedy implementation of the Kalasa Banduri drinking water project as well as the Mahadayi project.

The river Mahadayi is shared by Karnataka and Goa. The neighbouring state is opposing the implementation of the Kalasa-Banduri canal project which is intended to meet the drinking water needs of Hubballi-Dharwad, neighbouring towns and villages spread across four districts. The issue is now pending before the tribunal concerned.

Farmers in large numbers have been staging a dharna in Naragund and Navalgund demanding the implementation of the projects. Recently, actor Sudeep had addressed the agitating farmers to extend his support.

Some big names from the industry, including Shiva Rajkumar, Puneet Rajkumar, Ravi Chandran, Yash, Duniya Vijay, Chiranjeevi Sarja and Dhruva Sarja, Vijay Raghavendra, Rockline Venkatesh, Pooja Gandhi, Radhika Pandit, Doddanna, Leelavathi, Saroja Devi, Bharathi, Jayamala, Shruthi, Anu Prabhakar and others are scheduled to participate in the protest.

While most artistes flew to Hubballi in the afternoon, technicians, directors, and producers were transported to the city in two buses. Members of the film industry will take out a mega rally in Hubballi on Sunday.

The rally would begin at Moorusaviramutt premises at 11 am and culminate in a public meeting at Channamma Circle. The protest call was given by the Karnataka Film Chamber of Commerce, which plans to submit a memorandum to Chief Minister Siddaramaiah and Prime Minister Narendra Modi, through Hubballi deputy commissioner.

They are demanding that the State press for an interim order from the Mahadayi Water Dispute Tribunal allocating at least 7.56 TMC water to facilitate supply of drinking water to taluks of four districts, said KFCC president Thomas D’Souza.

After ascertaining the severity of drought conditions and the plight of farmers from the 20 odd directors who staged a protest a few days ago, KFCC dispatched letters to member associations, requesting their participation.

“This is just the beginning. If the governments do not heed our demands, we will intensify our protest,” added D’Souza. Shivarajkumar, representing artistes’ association, left for Hubballi by train on Saturday night. He said that the entire industry would stand by the issue.

Dr Rajkumar Fans’ Association President Sa Ra Govindu said, though Hubballi would be focal point of the agitation, film artistes would also visit Nargund and Navalgund. The directors had visited Naragund and Navalgund where they had interacted with the farmers, following which they had submitted a memorandum to the tahsildar, said M S Ramesh, president, Director’s Association.

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