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Cauvery water dispute: Google, Walmart ask Bengaluru staff to work from home

Calls for protests over a longstanding river water sharing dispute between two south Indian states have forced global firms including Walmart and Alphabet’s Google to ask employees in Bengaluru to work from home on Tuesday.

Farmers and activists have called for a strike in Bengaluru, dubbed India‘s Silicon Valley, demanding state authorities to refrain from releasing more water from the Cauvery river to the neighbouring state of Tamil Nadu.

Internal memos seen by Reuters showed multinational firms such as Google, Walmart, IBM and Accenture have advised employees to work from home and avoid any non-essential commuting during Tuesday’s strike.

The dispute over who gets access to the water has been a source of friction between the states of Karnataka and Tamil Nadu for more than a century.

Deadly riots broke out in Bengaluru in 2016 after the top court ordered the release of some water to Tamil Nadu.

Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah said on Monday his government would not curtail the protests but emphasised the importance of maintaining peace. Bengaluru hosts more than 3,500 tech companies and some 79 “tech parks” – upmarket premises that house offices and entertainment areas catering to technology workers. Many companies have asked employees to return to office or adopted a hybrid working model after the pandemic shutdowns.

Some private schools also shifted Tuesday’s classes online.

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