Water protests in tech hub expose urban India's growing pains

Fri Sep 16, 2016 5:28am EDT
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By Supriya Kurane and Robin Paxton

BENGALURU (Reuters) - Oracle employees were at work on Monday when protesters entered their nine-storey building in India's technology hub, Bengaluru, and asked them to leave in support of demonstrations that had erupted across the city over a water dispute.

By early afternoon, one of the U.S. software giant's biggest overseas offices had been evacuated, two employees there told Reuters, as had the Bengaluru premises of dozens of multinationals and Indian firms that stayed shut on Tuesday to ensure staff safety.

A spokeswoman for Oracle in India said no one was available to comment on the incident.

Two days of violence, in which protesters torched buses and clashed with riot police after a court ordered Karnataka state to share water from a river with another region, have exposed the growing pains of the dynamic technology hub's chaotic boom.

"They come and live here, which means our resources are being used by them. Tomorrow, if there is no water in the city, will they have an office here?" said 30-year-old local activist Keerthi Shankaraghatta, who led a group that staged peaceful calls to shut down several offices during the protests.

Videos posted on his Facebook page show employees from companies including Accenture and ICICI Bank being escorted out of their offices.

ICICI declined to comment. Accenture did not respond to a request for comment.

Thomson Reuters, the parent company of Reuters News, has more than 4,500 staff in Bengaluru.   Continued...

Men ride a motorcycle past a lorry in Bengaluru, which was set on fire by protesters after India's Supreme Court ordered Karnataka state to release 12,000 cubic feet of water per second every day from the Cauvery river to neighbouring Tamil Nadu, India September 12, 2016. REUTERS/Abhishek N. Chinnappa