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Wednesday, January 19, 2022

Karnataka Congress launches Mekedatu march, CM Bommai warns of action for violation of Covid-19 guidelines

Rajyasabha MP Mallikarjun Kharge launched the march at Sangama, the confluence of Cauvery and Arkavathi rivers. On the first day, it will cover 15 km to reach Doddalahalli, the native village of Karnataka Congress chief DK Shivakumar.

Written by Kiran Parashar | Bengaluru |
Updated: January 9, 2022 2:53:57 pm
Basavaraj BommaiThe regional unit of the National Restaurant Association of India (NRAI) has requested Karnataka Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai to lift the weekend curfew in the state with immediate effect. (File)

Discounting the Covid-19 surge and weekend curfew, the Karnataka unit of the Congress on Sunday morning launched a padayatra (march), seeking the implementation of the Mekedatu drinking water project, caught in a legal wrangle with Tamil Nadu.

Karnataka Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai, meanwhile, called the march “politically motivated” and said that action would be taken against the Congress workers for violation of Covid-19 guidelines.

Rajyasabha MP Mallikarjun Kharge launched the march at Sangama, the confluence of Cauvery and Arkavathi rivers. On the first day, it will cover 15 km to reach Doddalahalli, the native village of Karnataka Congress chief DK Shivakumar.

The 179-km march from Mekedatu to Bengaluru is set to cover 15 assembly constituencies before culminating with a public meeting at the Basavanagudi grounds in the state capital on January 19.

Thousands of party workers took part in the march on the first day with many of them not wearing masks and a lunch was organised for the participants.

The padayatra is considered to be a gamechanger for Congress ahead of the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) and the state assembly polls.

The mastermind behind the padayatra, Karnataka Pradesh Congress Committee (KPCC) president DK Shivakumar said that it is being conducted for the welfare of the people of Bengaluru, Ramanagaram and other districts and it is apolitical.

Sources within the Congress say that Shivakumar sees the march as a gamechanger for himself as he tries to become the party’s chief ministerial candidate for the next assembly polls.

Shivakumar had earlier said that there is no Covid in the country and it is all the BJP’s creation while justifying the decision to go ahead with the march.

The march is aimed to strengthen Congress prospects in Bengaluru urban, Ramanagaram, Kolar, Mysuru, Chamarajanagar, Mandya, Bengaluru rural and Chikkaballapura districts in the next assembly polls.

Meanwhile, Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai and other BJP leaders met on Sunday morning to discuss whether to allow the march inside Bengaluru city considering the Covid-19 situation.

Bommai said that it is nothing but a politically motivated act and a notice had been issued for violation of Covid-19 protocols. The Congress did not implement the Mekedatu project during its regime and is now conducting the march only for political gains, he alleged.

“There are legal hurdles which we are clearing and despite being aware of it, the Congress is trying to do this march only for political gains. We have already issued notice and government officials have also informed them in person. We will take action accordingly,” Bommai said.

Home Minister Araga Jnanendra said that the Congress leaders should apologise for their lapses in utilising the share of Cauvery waters. The law will take its course for violation of Covid-19 protocols, he said.

The Rs 9,000-crore Mekedatu reservoir and drinking water project across the Cauvery river in Karnataka’s Ramanagara district plans to utilise 4.75 thousand million cubic feet (TMC) of water for drinking purposes in Bengaluru and neighbouring areas, besides generating 400 MW power. However, Tamil Nadu is opposed to it, saying that it would hamper the interests of the state and deprive its farmers of water for irrigation purposes.

Meanwhile, Janata Dal (Secular) leader HD Kumaraswamy, who had earlier termed the Congress march a “gimmick” has now come up with his own water march, which will be launched on January 26 and cover 51 places along the banks of the rivers in Karnataka till the assembly polls in 2023.

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