The Congress in Karnataka on Sunday decided to organise a ‘Padayatra’ (march) from Mekedatu to Bengaluru, covering a distance of over 100 km, probably during the first week of December, demanding the implementation of the Mekedatu project across river Cauvery.
The principal opposition party in the state also asserted that Karnataka has every right to go ahead with the project as there are no legal impediments, while accusing Tamil Nadu of ‘playing politics’ by unnecessarily opposing it and creating issues.
”During the Congress and coalition government time, we had sent our plan of action and DPR to the Centre (on Mekedatu project) and it was accepted. We can today start the work, there is no impediments from the Supreme Court, what we need is environment clearance from the Centre,” Shivakumar, who had earlier held the water resources portfolio, said.
Speaking to reporters after a meeting of senior party leaders here, he pointed out that state’s money, land and water will be utilised for the project, and Karnataka does not require any other permission for its implementation, as he alleged that Chief Minister Basavarj Bommai seems to be under some ”political pressure” and ”lacks political will” to go ahead with it.
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”Implementation of the Mekedatu project is a necessity… so agitation is inevitable to demand it. So the Congress party has decided to organise a ‘padayatra’ (march) from Mekedatu to Bengaluru, probably in December first week, covering a distance of over 100 km, to put pressure on the central and the state governments to implement it,” he said adding that exact date and route map will be decided and made known.
Mekedatu is a multipurpose (drinking and power) project, which involves building a balancing reservoir, near Kanakapura in Ramanagara district of Karnataka.
The project once completed is aimed at ensuring drinking water to Bengaluru and neighboring areas (4.75 TMC) and also can generate 400 MW power, and the estimated cost of the project is Rs 9,000 crore.
Claiming that the implementation of the Mekedatu project will in no way affect Tamil Nadu and the state was unnecessarily creating issues, Leader of Opposition Siddaramaiah said as a matter of fact, the balancing reservoir will benefit both states, and will help in releasing the water stored, during the distress year.
Further accusing Tamil Nadu of ‘creating issues’ with regards to the project for the sake of politics, he said, ”the project will be taken up within Karnataka’s territory and has nothing to do with Tamil Nadu, and their (TN) right is on the quantum of water mentioned in the tribunal order.”
Karnataka has all the rights to implement the project, as it is to store and utilise excess water going into the sea, which will be shared with Tamil Nadu during distress times. The former CM said, ”the central government should immediately grant environmental clearance. There is no impediment at all to take up the project and the state government should immediately take it up.” In response to a question, he also made it clear that the ‘Padayatre’ organised by Congress has nothing to do with politics or upcoming 2023 assembly polls.
Earlier, Karnataka Chief Minister Basvaraj Bommai had asserted that there is no ”compromise” on the Mekedatu project and the state government will go ahead with its implementation, once it gets necessary approvals from the centre.
He had also accused the neighbouring state of opposing it for the sake of politics.
Giving further details on the meeting with Congress leader, Shivakumar said that a membership drive will be launched in Karnataka from November 14, during which, existing members will have to renew their membership and those seeking new membership should fill a form after paying Rs 5.
Also those wanting to become active members with voting rights, can take it by following prescribed fees and procedures.
The KPCC chief said, the party also plans to organise a public awareness campaign regarding the economic situation in the country and the state, distress faced by several sections of the society, at all panchayat and assembly constituency level, as per the directions of the party’s central leadership.