Karnataka Congress kickstarted the Mekedatu ‘padayatra’ (foot march) on Sunday with beating of drums and recital of ‘Vande Mataram’ in Ramnagar district of the state. The padayatra is being organised demanding commencement of Mekedatu reservoir work to “provide drinking water to Bengaluru and surrounding areas”.
AICC General Secretary Randeep Singh Surjewala inaugurated the padayatra by beating drums along with State Congress President D.K. Shivakumar, Opposition leader Siddaramaiah, Legislative Council Opposition leader B.K. Hariprasad and other prominent leaders.
Shivakumar stated that it is a “historical walk”, taken up as per the highest traditions of struggle of the Congress party, and he won’t bother about the criticism by the ruling BJP government. The walkathon is being inaugurated in the most auspicious time, he said.
“This is not our struggle, this is a struggle for the lives of the people of state. It is a struggle launched to provide drinking water to Bangaloreans. We should brave the sun for these five days,” he urged.
“BJP, which is in power at the Centre as well as in the state, could commence the work after getting clearance from the environment department in two days. If they would do so, we will come in the same numbers to extend our support” Shivakumar asserted.
B.K. Hariprasad, the Opposition leader in the state Legislative Council, stated that the “real problem” for the Mekedatu project is not being caused by the neighboring Tamil Nadu. The problem lies with the BJP governments at the Centre and the state.
Mekedatu padayatra, taken out with ‘Walk for Water’ slogan, will cover 79.8 km from Ramnagar to Bengaluru. The protest march would culminate in the Basavanagudi National College Grounds on March 3.
The party had earlier launched a 10-day Mekedatu padayatra on January 9, at the peak of the third Covid wave. However, after the High Court’s intervention, the padayatra was halted after four days.
Shivakumar has earlier stated that the padayatra is also taken up to “save” farmers of the Cauvery river bank area. “This agitation is not political or confined to a political party. Congress is leading it. Resident Welfare Associations, labour organisations, NGO’s, industries, film industry personalities, religious leaders and common man are taking part in the agitation,” he stated.
The padayatra has been cut down from 5 days to 3 days due to the state Assembly’s Budget session.