Bengaluru | Jagran News Desk: The Karnataka unit of the Congress on Thursday temporarily suspended its Mekedatu padayatra 10-day march after 5 top leaders of the state unit, including DK Shivakumar and Mallikarjun Kharge, the opposition leader in the Rajya Sabha, tested positive for the COVID-19.

"We have been successful in the last five days. We were supposed to end the padayatra in Bengaluru. Because of the third wave, we have to postpone it for now," senior Congress leader and former Karnataka CM Siddaramaiah said today.

Apart from DK Shivakumar and Mallikarjun Khagre, former Union Minister Veerappa Moily, former minister Shivashankar Reddy, senior Congress leader Mallajamma have also tested positive for Covid. All of them participated in the Mekedatu padayatra.

Earlier in the day, Karnataka Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai also appealed to Congress leaders Siddaramaiah and D K Shivakumar to call off their ongoing padyatra demanding implementation of Mekedatu project across river Cauvery.

The Chief Minister's appeal comes a day after the government under fire from the High Court and party legislators had prohibited inter-district and intra- district (within Ramanagara) movement of vehicles and persons for participating in the padayatra, with immediate effect.

The Karnataka High Court on Wednesday had questioned the state government as to why it allowed the Congress' padayatra, which is being held in violation of its COVID curbs, and why no appropriate action was taken by the authorities to restrain the march.

It has also asked the Karnataka Pradesh Congress Committee (KPCC) whether it had obtained permission for the padayatra and whether measures have been taken in compliance with Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) prescribed by the government to prevent the COVID-19 spread.

The Congress' 10-day long march demanding implementation of Mekedatu project, to which neighbouring Tamil Nadu is opposed, on its fifth day today, was scheduled to cover a distance of about 15 km from Ramanagara to Bidadi, defying COVID curbs. The padayatra that began on January 9, was to span a total distance of nearly 139 km and was scheduled to conclude at Basavanagudi in Bengaluru on January 19.

The Mekedatu Multipurpose (drinking and power) project involves building a balancing reservoir near Kanakapura in the 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.


(With Agency Inputs)

Posted By: Talibuddin Khan