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Congress says padayatra will go ahead, asks if govt has banned walks on roads

State Congress president D K Shivakumar, reacting to a protest ban issued on Tuesday night by the BJP government, said the Sunday march would not be cancelled.

Written by Darshan Devaiah BP | Bengaluru |
January 5, 2022 4:22:35 pm
Karnataka Congress president D K Shivakumar | Twitter/@DKShivakumar

Despite a surge in Covid-19 cases in Karnataka and a state government order banning protests, the Congress is firm about taking out a padayatra (march) demanding implementation of the Mekedatu drinking water project.

State Congress president D K Shivakumar, reacting to a protest ban issued on Tuesday night by the BJP government, said the Sunday (January 9) march would not be cancelled. “Prime Minister Narendra Modi is holding a series of rallies, but the BJP government in Karnataka wants us not to conduct a walk for water?” he asked.

The Congress leader also questioned “the double standards” of the government led by Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai. “I have been charged with violations of Covid-19 guidelines and served summonses. But Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai violated restrictions and attended a wedding ceremony. What action has been taken against him?” he said.

In the wake of the protest ban, Shivakumar sought to call the 10-day padayatra a “walk for water”, claiming that party workers would just be walking on the road and not protesting. “It is a simple walk. Does the government stop us from walking on roads?” he said.

The march from Mekedatu to Bengaluru, a distance of around 179 km, will cover 15 Assembly constituencies before culminating with a public meeting at the Basavanagudi grounds in the state capital.

According to Shivakumar, the party has ordered sanitisers and one lakh masks for the participants of the padayatra. Älso 100 doctors from the party’s doctors cell and 10 mobile health check-up units will also be deployed during the 10-day event, he said. Over 4,817 people, most of them party workers, are said to have registered online for the event.

Meanwhile, Health Minister Dr K Sudhakar appealed to the Congress to stop the padayatra in view of the coronavirus surge in the state.

The Siddaramaiah-led Congress government in 2013 announced the Rs 5,912-crore Mekedatu project to ensure (4.75 TMC) drinking water to Bengaluru and neighbouring areas as well as to generate 400 MW power. A balancing reservoir is to be built near Kanakapura in Ramanagara district of Karnataka under the project.

Chief Minister Bommai had earlier asserted that there was no compromise on the Mekedatu project and that the government was waiting for the Centre’s approvals to go ahead with it. However, Shivakumar alleged that Bommai seemed to be under political pressure to drop the project.

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