Accusing the Congress of disrupting the proposed Mekedatu balancing reservoir across the Cauvery river with its recent ‘walk for water’ campaign, Karnataka Revenue Minister R Ashoka on Monday said the Congress drive only helped spread the COVID-19 pandemic in the state.
The minister said the opposition Congress party’s agitation could be used by the Tamil Nadu government, which was opposed to the project, to stall it.
”For the past 15-20 years we had been convincing people that the Mekedatu project in Ramanagara district is restricted to drinking and power generation purposes but the Congress publicised it in a way that it will give water from the project to the farmers as well. Now the statements of Congress leaders here will be used by the Tamil Nadu government to stall the project,” he added.
The minister said no water dispute has ever been resolved by rally or a ‘padayatra.’ ”All such disputes were sorted out by the court orders. That much common sense Congress leader should have had,” Ashoka added.
Accusing the Congress of spreading the coronavirus pandemic in the state, the minister challenged the leader of opposition, Siddaramaiah to get all those who had taken part in the ‘padayatra’ for five days from January 9, when the march began, tested.
The test will make it clear as to whether or not the Congress leaders’ march has led to the fast spread of the virus, the minister alleged.
Ashoka charged that the Congress leaders did not pay heed to the notices serviced to them by the district authorities as it would lead to more infections.
”The information we have is that the Congress leaders have got COVID. According to rules, they must be quarantined but none are under isolation but yet they blame us for the spread of disease,” the Minister alleged.
Charging the Congress with having failed to follow the law of the land, Ashoka sought to know what message are we sending to the people of the state if the public representatives violate regulations.
He said people of Karnataka know that the Congress plays these kind of politics whenever elections were round the corner.
”They didn’t do anything when they were power in the state as well as at the Centre for more than 50 years. Now they are staging a drama. People clearly know that their agitation is bogus,” Ashoka said.
According to him, the march was not a people’s event but one where the Congress party workers from different parts of the state were summoned to take part.
The 10-day ‘padayatra’ with the theme ‘Namma Neeru Namma Hakku’ (Our water, Our right) began at the Sangama, the confluence of Cauvery and Arkavathi rivers at Kanakapura in Ramanagara district on January 9.
As the Karnataka High Court cracked the whip and asked the government why it allowed the event to take place amid the raging pandemic in the state, the Congress wound up the same.
The agitation was believed to be an attempt to mobilise its ranks and cadres and consolidate its voter base in the old Mysuru region, which is a Vokkaliga bastion, where JD(S) is its traditional rival and the ruling BJP is attempting to make inroads ahead of the 2023 Assembly polls.
The Karnataka government had submitted a Detailed Project Report (DPR) to the Central Water Commission (CWC) in 2019, which was then referred to the Cauvery Water Management Authority (CWMA) where it is stuck currently as Tamil Nadu, which is the lower riparian state has opposed the project tooth and nail.