Traders, farmers, kids, this war hurts all

Mysuru hotels empty with the Dasara festival looming, the tourism industry in the state is usually upbeat, anticipating a boom in business.

When neighbours fight, nothing works out for anyone and the ongoing tension between Karnataka and Tamil Nadu is no exception. Bearing the brunt are common people with their day-to-day life impacted, mobility between the two states halted and tourism taking a big hit with Dasara round the corner. Traders and farmers are selling their fast decaying vegetables at rock-bottom prices. The Cauvery imbroglio has truly spared none.

Mysuru hotels empty with the Dasara festival looming, the tourism industry in the state is usually upbeat, anticipating a boom in business. But not this year. The Cauvery dispute has cast its long shadow over the industry and many fear it could impact the flow of tourists to the state for the famous Mysuru Dasara, that in normal times draws people not just from the country but the world over.

Said Karnataka Hotel Owners' Association president, Rajendra,"Every year around 10 lakh tourists visit Mysore during Dasara. But if the tension over Cauvery doesn’t ease soon we are not sure we will get tourists even in thousands. Only the locals may get to enjoy the Dasara spectacle."

Read | Guest column: Karnataka government is sleeping on the job on Cauvery issue

Pointing out that a tourist spends around Rs 2,000 to Rs 3,000 every day on accommodation, food, shopping and travel, Mr Rajendra says owing to the current Cauvery crisis, which is keeping most away from the state, around 10 lakh people in Ramnagar, Mandya, Channapatna and Mysuru, who provide these services, have no business to speak of.

Mr Radhakrishna Holla, president of the Bangalore Tourist Taxi Owners' Association explains that the tourist season in South India spans mid-September to October, when the Mysuru Dasara is also held. “Tourists from various parts of the world come to our part of the country this season to visit tourist spots and temples in Karnataka, Kerala and Tamil Nadu. But this year we have not received a single booking owing to the trouble over Cauvery. Even the local corporate cab operations are affected,” he lamented.

With over 25,000 families dependent on the industry, it has suffered a loss of over Rs 200 crore this month, according to him. “We are hoping the Cauvery issue will be resolved soon,” he added fervently.

A dispute in dates
June 1991: Following the constitution of the Cauvery Water Disputes Tribunal, an interim order was passed asking Karnataka to release 205 tmcft of water to Tamil Nadu and the state was forced to accept it.
2007: In its final order, the tribunal ordered allocation of 419 tmc ft of the water to Tamil Nadu, 270 tmc ft to Karnataka (as against the demand for 465 tmc ft), 30 tmc ft to Kerala and 7 tmc ft to Puducherry. Karnataka protested the tribunal award and observed a state-wide bandh.
Sept 5, 2016 : The Supreme Court directed the Karnataka government to release 15,000 cusecs of Cauvery river water every day to Tamil Nadu for the next 10 days to help that state meet the demands of its summer crop.
Sept 12, 2016: While refusing to accept public unrest as a ground for exempting the state from its obligation to share Cauvery river water with Tamil Nadu , the SC modified its order from 15,000 cusecs a day to 12,000 cusecs but increased the number days, to September 20.
Sept 19, 2016: The Cauvery Supervisory Committee which is mediating between the two states, ordered Karnataka to release 3,000 cusecs of water per day between September 21 and 30.
Sept 20, 2016: The Supreme Court directed the state to release 6,000 cusecs a day from September 21 to 27. It also asked the Centre to constitute the Cauvery Water Management Board within four weeks. Both the states are allowed to file objections to the Cauvery Supervisory Committee report in three days.

No gas from Tamil Nadu

If vegetables are getting cheaper in the markets, the wait for the fuel to cook them could take longer as the Cauvery dispute may affect the supply of LPG cylinders to the city. Most operators of LPG bullets (tankers) , who are based in Namakkal, Tamil Nadu have currently stopped their services fearing attacks on their vehicles.

Said Captain Lingaraju B L, vice-president, All India LPG Distributors Federation,” LPG is supplied every day to the city. If the supply is stopped even for a day , it can reflect on the delivery. So a consumer, who got cylinders delivered within two days of booking, may have to wait for over 10 days to get them now."

Pointing out that the city had only one LPG source of its own, the Indian Oil Corporation Limited at Devanagundi near Whitefield, he noted that it could not cater to the needs of all its people. “Bengaluru could face widespread LPG shortage if the situation does not improve soon," he warned.

Glut hurts: Farmers suffer as onion prices drop to Rs 2-3

In normal times, nearly 3,000 trucks carry vegetables from the state to Tamil Nadu every day. But with Cauvery causing a divide between the two states, Karnataka's trucks are going nowhere near TN, creating a glut in the local markets, where vegetable prices have fallen drastically in recent weeks. Traders, who sold onions for Rs 30 a kg, are now selling them for as little as Rs 2 or Rs 3 a kg. Similarly, potato, that was sold for Rs 40 a kg, is now going for a paltry Rs 4 a kg. In the process thousands of vegetable growing farmers and traders, who buy from them in huge quantities for supplying to Tamil Nadu, have suffered huge losses.

Said Mr Dastagir Khan, president, K R Market Trader’s Association, “As there is no supply of vegetables to Tamil Nadu, traders have stopped buying them from the farmers. Their only aim now is to clear the existing stock as vegetables are perishable. Since the day the protest erupted, we have suffered a loss of around Rs 60 crore.”

Farmers’ leader, Kodihalli Chandrashekar too is unhappy with the situation. “This is not a good development for the farmers of the state. Where can they sell their produce when there is no market for it? As vegetables are perishable they cannot store them for long either. The government should immediately intervene and take action,” he demanded.

Walk to work on the highway

Those travelling by buses to Tamil Nadu are finding the going tough since the Cauvery dispute flared up recently. While the KSRTC is not running any buses to the neighbouring state, even private buses are dropping passengers at the border and expecting them to make their own arrangements to proceed onwards. Said a KSRTC official, “At present we are not operating buses to Tamil Nadu. We will resume our services based on how the situation develops.”

Forced to rely on private services in the absence of the KSRTC buses, passengers are finding they can go no futher than the border and many choose to cross into Tamil Nadu on foot and then find suitable transportation to take them the rest of the way.

Take Mr Balachandar A of Chamrajpet in Bengaluru. Having to travel urgently to Tamil Nadu for a job interview, he had no choice but to take a bus. But then found there were no direct buses available. “I had to take a BMTC bus to Attibele and then walk across the border before taking an auto to the Hosur bus stand in Tamil Nadu where I boarded another bus to my destination," he recounted.

Those heading for Karnataka from Tamil Nadu are not having it easy either and are relying on trains to get them here. Shanthi D of Bengaluru, who was in Tamil Nadu attending a family wedding when the violence over Cauvery erupted, had to return by train as the bus services were cancelled.

"I was in Erode when I got to know that the buses to Karnataka had been cancelled. So I reached the city by the Ernakulam Intercity Express, which passes through Erode junction,” she recalled.

( Source : Deccan Chronicle. )
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