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Congress gears up for Mekedatu ‘padayatra-II’ from Sunday

Bengaluru, Feb 26 (PTI) The Karnataka Pradesh Congress Committee will take up afresh its march for water from Sunday to demand the implementation of the Mekedatu project across Cauvery in Ramanagara district of the State.

From January 9, the party held the ‘padayatra’ from Mekedatu, the confluence of rivers Cauvery and Arkavathi but stopped the yatra midway.

The 10-day padayatra in January was supposed to end in Bengaluru but the march was suspended on January 13 due to the Karnataka High Court cracking the whip as the Congress ignored the restrictions imposed by the State government in view of the third wave of the surge in COVID-19 cases.

Unlike the first yatra, the second march, to be for five days, would begin from Ramanagara town instead of Mekedatu. It would pass through several areas of Bengaluru before concluding at the National College Ground on March 3, where there would be a public meeting.

According to sources in the Congress, the march would stop at Bidadi, a part of Ramanagara, on the first and would on the following day enter Bengaluru from Kengeri. On the third day, it would reach Jayanagara and the Palace Grounds on the fourth and the National College Ground on the fifth day, said the sources.

The party has made arrangements for the march and expects the participation of least 5,000 to 10,000 people.

The sources said rooms in the resorts and hotels in Ramanagara and Bidadi have been booked to accommodate the senior leaders of the party.

Speaking to reporters, State chief of the Congress D K Shivakumar, an MLA from Kanakapura, said the party decided to launch the march to ensure supply of drinking water to the people of Bengaluru and to the farmers in the Cauvery region.

Explaining the reason behind launching the walk for water from Ramanagara, Shivakumar said the march in January, which started from Mekedatu, was stopped abruptly in Ramanagara.

“This is an apolitical fight which Congress is heading. All the residents’ welfare associations, workers, industrial bodies, NGOs, people from the cine world, religious leaders and ordinary citizens are welcome to take part in it,” he said.

Appealing to the people to join the agitation, Shivakumar said the fight is for their rights.

According to him, numerous farmers’ associations and pro-Kannada organisations are going to lend support to the cause.

He said the march would start after paying obeisance to Mother Chamundeshwari at 9 AM tomorrow.

He said he had planned the five-day march in the city of Bengaluru but had to cut it short for three days in view of the budget session which starts on March 4.

Shivakumar and Congress State working president Ramalinga Reddy went to National College Ground to review arrangements for holding the public meeting.

With a year left for the Assembly election in the state, the ruling BJP is seeing the yatra as an attempt of the Congress to create a voter base especially in the old Mysuru region comprising Mysuru, Mandya, Ramanagara, and Chamarajanagara, and Kolar.

Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai said the Congress organised the yatra for political mileage.

“The world knows why Congress leaders are taking up the yatra. They are calling it padayatra-1 and Padayatra-2. For them, it is only politics that is important,” he told reporters.

He said the Congress derailed the legislature session for politics.

“They continued doing outside what they did inside (Assembly),” Bommai said.

Replying to a question whether prohibitory orders would be imposed in Bengaluru on the day of the yatra as a precaution against Covid-19, he said there were minimum restrictions everyone should follow. Much is at stake for Shivakumar, the brain behind this march, as several Congress functionaries believe it as an attempt by the KPCC chief, ahead of the elections, to bolster his chief ministerial ambitions and Siddaramaiah too is a contender. The party has seen several incidents of political one-upmanship between the two leaders.

In 2019, the Karnataka government submitted a detailed project report (DPR) to the Central Water Commission (CWC), which was then referred to the Cauvery Water Management Authority (CWMA) where it is stuck currently because Tamil Nadu, which is the lower riparian State, has opposed the project.

Karnataka has been saying the project within its territory would benefit both the States as the surplus water stored can be managed between the two during drought, and its implementation would in no way affect the interest of Tamil Nadu.

The neighbouring State is of the view that the project would impound and divert the uncontrolled water flow due to Tamil Nadu from Kabini sub-basin, the catchment area below Krishnarajasagara, and also from Shimsha, Arkavathi and Suvarnavathi sub-basins besides other small streams.

The estimated Rs 9,000-crore multi-purpose (drinking and power) project involves building a balancing reservoir near Kanakapura in Ramanagara district. The project, once completed, is aimed at ensuring drinking water to Bengaluru and neighbouring areas (4.75 TMC) and can also generate 400 megawatts of power. PTI GMS RS NVG NVG

This report is auto-generated from PTI news service. ThePrint holds no responsibility for its content.

Source: The Print

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