Cong’s Mekedatu padayatra: K’taka Home Minister warns action in case of COVID rules violation

04:20 PM Jan 06, 2022 | Team Udayavani |

With Congress deciding to go ahead with its ‘padayatra’ (march), demanding implementation of the Mekedatu project across the Cauvery river, despite the government’s COVID-19 restrictions, Karnataka Home Minister Araga Jnanendra on Thursday warned of action in case of violation of rules.


An unfazed Congress’ state president D K Shivakumar and Leader of Opposition in the State Assembly Siddaramaiah reiterated that they will go ahead with the padayatra and said they are ready to go to jail, in case the government arrests them.

The Congress’ march from Mekedatu to Bengaluru, covering a distance of over 100 kilometres, demanding implementation of the Mekedatu project, which is being opposed by neighbouring Tamil Nadu, is scheduled from January 9 to 19.

”They (Congress) are not behaving like a responsible opposition, at the time when the state is amid a pandemic. How to behave is left to them, people are watching. Not doing anything (on Mekedatu) for six and half years while in power, they are now saying they will agitate for the sake of water. During normal situations they had every right to do it, but this is not the time,” Jnanendra said.

Speaking to reporters here, he pointed out that even PM Narendra Modi’s programme in Lucknow has been cancelled, also the state BJP has cancelled its ‘Chintana Shibira’ scheduled to be held from January 7-9 in the wake of a spike in cases and COVID restrictions.


”If they (Congress) go ahead with the padayatra and violate guidelines, necessary action will be taken, and people are watching everything,” he said, adding that ”our health is in our hands and I appeal that everyone should cooperate.” The Congress on Wednesday had decided to go ahead with its padayatra, despite the government’s COVID-19 restrictions, and had described COVID containment measures as a ”conspiracy” to ”scuttle” their march.

Stating that COVID rules are not different for political parties and people, Jnanendra said rules are same for anyone and in case of any violation, strict action will be taken in accordance with law.

People like Siddaramaiah and D K Shivakumar who have been in public life for long, have to think that the life of the people is more important than politics, he said, as he warned that in case they violate COVID rules, action will be taken against them also as per law.

”We will observe them, if they violate, we will take action…..there is no question of any permission (for padayatra), we have cancelled our own meetings, all activities have been prohibited, when such is the case, how can special permission be given to them, it is not possible,” he said.

The Karnataka government on Tuesday had decided to impose curfew on weekends and restrict public gatherings to fight the third wave of COVID-19, till January 19. It has also decided to continue the night curfew for two more weeks, and has prohibited all rallies, dharnas, protests, among others Reacting to the Home Minister’s statement, Shivakumar said his party will go ahead with the padayatra following COVID precautionary measures and was ready to go to jail if the government decides to arrest him.

”….let them arrest me or Siddaramaiah or MLAs. We will respect law and COVID rules,” he said.

Pointing at a large gathering of political leaders including Chief Minister, Ministers, opposition leaders, legislators and their supporters at the swearing-in of newly elected MLCs at Vidhana Soudha today, the KPCC chief accused the government of double standards and asked Jnanendra as to how this event was allowed, and said that his party will not fear ”futile threats”.

”There is COVID here as well, what are they (govt) doing? what is Home Minister doing? They should have done it (swearing-in) virtually or should have called only newly elected MLCs for swearing-in inside the Council chambers…..We will go ahead with our padayatra for the sake of the people and get them the water, no one can stop, let the government show its strength,” he said.

Siddaramaiah too asserted the Congress is going ahead with the padayatra with all precautionary measures like wearing face masks and gloves, maintaining distance and using sanitizers.

To a question on no permission being accorded for taking out the march, he said, ”We will not take permission and do padayatra… but we will not violate the law….let them (govt) take action.” ”If the government imposes prohibitory orders to stop people from joining the padayatra, two or three of us leaders will march,” he added.

The padayatra is for the implementation of the Mekedatu 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 neighbouring areas (4.75 TMC) and also can generate 400 MW power, and the estimated cost of the project is Rs 9,000 crore.


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