With buses, taxis and autos staying off roads, movement of people and goods halted in many cities and towns in the southern state, officials said.
Though the shutdown has not affected train and flight operations, hundreds of passengers alighting at railway stations and airports at Bengaluru and Mangaluru in the early hours were stranded in the absence of public or private transport.
Many passengers who had to board trains or flights during the day rushed to railway stations and airports in the early hours before the 12-hour shutdown began at 6 a.m.
State-run Bengaluru metro rail corporation, which operates on the east-west corridor, also suspended service but may resume late evening if normalcy prevails.
The state government declared holiday for all schools and colleges across the state to avoid inconvenience to students and teachers in the absence of transport.
Hundreds of IT companies, including Infosys, Wipro and multinationals in Bengaluru and Mysuru declared holiday for their employees, responding to the shutdown call by the Karnataka Okkuta, a federation of 500 pro-Kannada and other organisations.
Similarly, factories, private offices, markets, shops, malls, hotels, eateries, pubs, bars, theatres and petrol bunks have remained closed in support of the shutdown.
“The day-long state-wide shutdown is in protest against the Supreme Court order and to express resentment over the state government releasing the Cauvery water when we don’t have it for drinking and irrigation,” said Okkuta president Vatal Nagaraj here.
Bowing to the apex court’s Monday order, the state began releasing daily 15,000 cusecs since early Wednesday from Krishna Raja Sagar (KRS) and Kabini reservoirs across the river basin for 10 days amid protests and demonstrations by farmers, traders and youth in the Mysuru region.
Admitting that frequent shutdowns cause inconvenience to the public, Nagaraj said there was no alternative to protest against injustice and failure of the state government in protecting the interests of the people, especially farmers.
The federation, however, exempted supply of essentials, including milk and medicines, from the shutdown. Ambulances will also be allowed to ferry patients to hospitals.
Deploying additional police personnel, the state government has tightened security, stepped up vigil and intensified patrolling to maintain peace and law and order.