The water was running in Bangalore on Saturday, but the buses were not.
“I have been waiting for a bus for over two hours now,” said Prabhat Kishan, 60, at the Majestic Bus Station in Bangalore.
India’s information technology capital shut down on Saturday over a state-wide “bandh,” or strike, that shut down shops, malls and restaurants. The bandh’s organizers paralysed the city to protest a decision by India’s Supreme Court to demand that the state of Karnataka allow the neighbouring state of Tamil Nadu to get precious additional reserves of water from the Cauvery River. It is the latest episode in a dispute that has endured for years in a country that is facing alarming shortages of groundwater.
Karnataka has appealed the verdict, saying that the Cauvery River Authority, which conducted the tests that led to the decision, did not perform the tests properly. A new report on the river’s ability to provide drinking water and water for farmers is due on Thursday, Oct. 11.
In a city infamous for its chaotic traffic, the streets were deserted and the normal din of horns from cars, trucks, buses and motorbikes was absent. There was no commercial activity around the popular hubs of MG Road, Brigade Road and Koramangala, and the only buses that ran were ones non-union drivers. The information highway was partially shut down too as cable television operators blocked entertainment channels on television as they joined the protest. On a normal day, the Majestic bus station is reported to handle around 800,000 commuters and 4,500 state run buses.