Congress re-launches Mekedatu padayatra

‘Namma Neeru Namma Hakku’ padayatra, launched on January 9, was temporarily suspended on January 13 owing to rising numbers of COVID-19 cases in the State

Updated - February 28, 2022 09:40 am IST

Published - February 27, 2022 02:23 pm IST - Bengaluru

Congress leaders led by KPCC President, CLP Leader Siddaramaiah gathered on February 27 morning in Ramanagara before they started the second leg of Padayatra demanding early implementation of Makedatu drinking water irrigation project

Congress leaders led by KPCC President, CLP Leader Siddaramaiah gathered on February 27 morning in Ramanagara before they started the second leg of Padayatra demanding early implementation of Makedatu drinking water irrigation project | Photo Credit: The Hindu

Over a month after suspending the padayatra seeking implementation of the Mekedatu drinking water project, the Congress on Sunday relaunched it from Ramanagaram, about 45 km from here, as thousands of workers from the Cauvery basin districts joined the march.

The ‘Namma Neeru Namma Hakku’ padayatra, launched on January 9, was temporarily suspended on January 13 owing to rising numbers of COVID-19 cases in the State.

The padayatra will now culminate at the National College grounds at Basavanagudi on March 3 after covering about 170 km and about 15 Assembly constituencies.

On Sunday, Congress general secretary in charge of Karnataka Randeep Singh Surjewala launched the padayatra as the frontline party leadership put up a united face before the crowd. Mr. Surjewala said he was confident of the walk proving a success.

The former Chief Minister Siddaramaiah said the BJP Government had not done anything in the last three years and that the “double engine” governments of BJP at the State and the Centre had not brought perceived benefits. “There are no legal hassles to the project. The project could have received environmental permission in two days,” he said.

Though taunted by the Janata Dal (Secular) over the padayatra, KPCC president D.K. Shivakumar refused to be drawn into it, and said he was not bothered about those comments. He said they would “wholeheartedly cooperate with the Government in launching the project if it secures permission”.

The nearly ₹9,000-crore Mekedatu balancing reservoir across the Cauvery, meant to supply drinking water to Bengaluru and neighbouring districts and generate 400 MW of power, has been hanging fire for over two years. The project, which has been opposed by Tamil Nadu, seeks to impound 67 tmcft of water at Mekedatu. Karnataka submitted the detailed project report seeking permission to start the project in 2019 and is awaiting environmental clearance as large tracts of thick forest in the Cauvery Wildlife Sanctuary is to be submerged.

Seen as a political strategy of the Congress to attract Vokkaligas in the Cauvery basin districts where the party is in a direct fight with the JD(S) that derives strength from the majority population of the community, the padayatra has been criticised by the ruling BJP as well as the JD(S) that fears erosion of its base, especially after Mr. Shivakumar, Vokkaliga strongman from Kanakapura took over as KPCC president. On his part, Mr. Shivakumar has been travelling to Vokkaliga dominated districts of Mandya, Mysuru, Hassan, and Tumakuru to drum up support from the party workers and the general public alike. The Cauvery issue remains an emotive one in the basin districts as the river is the lifeline.

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