The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Farmers war over water

Hyderabad, July 5: Farmers and elected representatives from Kurnool and Mahboobnagar yesterday scrambled to siphon Krishna waters from a diversion scheme to their respective district canals downstream.

The idea was to get as much water as possible before it flowed downstream to Srisailam.

On June 25, the farmers from Andhra Pradesh had done much the same thing, trying to divert water from the Rajolibanda diversion scheme, 15 km from Gadwal in Mahboobnagar district on the Karnataka-Andhra border.

But yesterday, the water diversion bid occurred on a larger scale, with 10,000 farmers and representatives entering the fray. The district units, led by their legislators, hurled country-made bombs at each other as they clashed over Krishna waters.

The large turnout at the border unnerved the district administration, which sent an SOS to Hyderabad for additional forces.

Mahboobnagar farmers, led by MLA Gattu Bhimudu and two other legislators, tried to plug the sluices at the border to stop what they termed the illegal flow of 400 cusecs of water downstream into the Kurnool-Cuddapah canal. The farmers had even come armed with an order from the district sessions court, Mahboobnagar.

But farmers from Kurnool, drawn from Kosigi and Adoni, and supported by their district police, got wind of their move. The Kurnool farmers pushed their Mahboobnagar counterparts away and unplugged the sluices amid much slogan-shouting. With knives, sickles, swords and country-made bombs at their disposal, they were much better-armed than their rival farmers who had only stones and lathis.

Andhra police remained spectators for a while as did their counterparts from Karnataka. They sprang into action only when the farmers began fighting among themselves.

The battle began with farmers hurling stones at each other and was interrupted by a heavy downpour that lasted an hour. When it resumed, the contest was more fierce. The farmers pelted country-made bombs this time along with stones and rained blows on each other.

About 30 farmers were hurt before police and district administrations of Kurnool, Mahboobnagar and Raichur stepped in.

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