Bengaluru protests have cost Karnataka over Rs 25,000 crore; public transport worst-hit

As Bengaluru hobbled back to normalcy, an uneasy calm was still prevalent in Bengaluru’s IT city. According to reports, curfew was still on in a few parts of the city while the rest of Bengaluru was more or less normal. IANS, however, reported protests in Mandya and Mysuru in southern Karnataka on Tuesday.

Curfew, imposed late on Monday night, continued to remain in force in 16 police station limits of the city which were under prohibitory orders. Although the government has not declared a holiday for schools and colleges, few private institutions remained shut on Wednesday.

Monday’s riot-like situation in Bengaluru had surprised everyone. Which started as a few stray and isolated incidents, snowballed into a massive rage with protesters rallying against the Supreme Court’s directive in which the top court modified its earlier order and told the Karnataka government to release 12,000 cusecs of water to neighbouring Tamil Nadu on daily basis till 20 September.

Transport vehicles were back in service and shops and establishments functioned normally, senior police officials said, adding, adequate measures have been taken to prevent occurrence of untoward incidents.

Even as senior politicians and eminent personalities urged the people of Karnataka to maintain peace, the state, especially worst-hit Bengaluru, incurred a lot of losses and we are not just talking about business losses.

Public transport bore the brunt

The most damage was incurred by owners of public and private transport companies. The bus companies, which ply regularly between Bengaluru and Tamil Nadu, took the worst hit.

According to reports, 56 private buses were set on fire by protesters in Bengaluru. The first few images which flashed on TV on Monday were that of buses at the KPN depot at D’Souza Nagar in Nayandahalli. At least, 50 crores, as Deccan Chronicle reported, went up in smoke when around 200 agitators stormed into the bus depot and hurled crude petrol bombs at the buses.

Tamil Nadu bound buses in flames after they were torched by pro-Kannada activists during a protest over Cauvery water row, in Bengaluru on Monday. PTI

Tamil Nadu bound buses in flames after they were torched by pro-Kannada activists during a protest over Cauvery water row, in Bengaluru on Monday. PTI

Speaking to The News Minute, owner KP Natarajan of KPN Travels, which happens to be one of the leading bus operators in South India, said: "I am a businessman. How will targeting my buses and business solve the Cauvery issue? We have nothing to do with it."

According to Natarajan, who is a businessman from Salem in Tamil Nadu, Cauvery 'skirmishes' have happened in the past but not in this manner.

KPN runs hundreds of buses that ply through Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Puducherry on a regular basis. Two SRS Travels buses were also reportedly set on fire by agitating protesters. TV 9 Kannada on Monday had reported that the vandals told the bus drivers to alight before setting fire to the buses.

According to this report in The Times of India, a total of 152 which belonged to KSRTC and BMTC were damaged by protesters causing a total loss of at least 20 crores to both the corporations. A protest led by garment factory workers on Hosur road and Tumkur road attacked at least 50 buses of KSRTC. At least seven KSRTC buses were set on fire by the protesters, 80 BMTC buses were stoned and 11 including two Volvo buses that were gutted by the vandals.

A vehicle in flames after it was torched by pro-Kannada activists during a protest over Cauvery water row, in Mandya district on Monday. PTI

A vehicle in flames after it was torched by pro-Kannada activists during a protest over Cauvery water row, in Mandya district on Monday. PTI

Loss of life

The violence claimed its second life on Tuesday. A 30-year old man, who had allegedly jumped in panic from a three-storey building while trying to escape police lathicharge in Bengaluru, succumbed to multiple injuries on Tuesday.

"Kumar, around 30 years old, has died. He was brought to our hospital at 9.30 on Monday night in a critical stage. He is said to have jumped from third floor of a building as he was trying to escape from a lathicharge yesterday," Dr Giridhar, managing director of Lakshmi Multi-Speciality Hospital, said.

One person was killed and another injured in police firing in the country's IT capital on Monday.

Image of Bengaluru sullied

Karnataka is estimated to have suffered a loss of around Rs 22,000-25,000 crore with the wide-spread agitation hitting transport services and businesses, Assocham said.

The industry body further said that violence in the state capital and other parts of Karnataka has "severely dented" the image of Bengaluru as the Silicon Valley of India, which is home to many of the Fortune 500 companies, making a fervent appeal for peace in both Karnataka and Tamil Nadu.

"With widespread damage to vital urban infrastructure, interruption in the transport including, roads, rail and air and inability of the workforce to safely move to and from offices and factories, Karnataka, particularly Bengaluru city, is estimated to have suffered a loss between Rs 22,000-25,000 crore due to Cauvery dispute related violence," it said.

"The way the violent incidents had spread is demoralising the business and industrial community, particularly in the capital city of Karnataka. The image that India built around Bengaluru as its 'Silicon Valley' is being sullied," Assocham secretary-general DS Rawat said.

According to Assocham, widespread loss would accrue to IT and ITeS facilities due to poor attendance for the last few days and the inter-state tourism particularly involving pilgrims and domestic travellers has been affected. Cancellation of air tickets have also been reported to and from Bengaluru, it added.

Likewise, industrial production, movement of cargo and retail trade including malls, cinema halls and restaurants have been halted.

"All these losses would run between Rs 22,000 crore and Rs 25,000 crore, besides of course immense damage to the goodwill of the state as an attractive investment destination," the chamber said.

With inputs from agencies

Updated Date: Sep 14, 2016 15:08 PM

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