As Congress' 'padayatra' (foot march), demanding implementation of the Mekedatu project across the Cauvery river, continued on Monday, Karnataka Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai called it 'politically motivated' and questioned the grand old party's contribution for the project. After temporarily halting it in January due to COVID-19 concerns, the Congress had resumed the padayatra under the leadership of its state president D K Shivakumar and Leader of Opposition in the Assembly Siddaramaiah on Sunday, and had covered a distance of 15 km from Ramanagara to Bidadi. Today the foot march will cover a distance of 20.5 km to reach Kengeri from Bidadi. The 'padayatra 2.0' with the theme ‘Namma Neeru Namma Hakku’ (Our water, Our right) will culminate at the National College Ground in Basavanagudi in Bengaluru on March 3, after covering a total distance of 79.8 kilometres. Reacting to Congress' march, Chief Minister Bommai said, "There is no need to give much importance to it (padayatra), despite knowing all the facts they are doing padayatra for political gains." "People are aware that during the Congress' regime, they weren't able to even prepare a DPR. What is their contribution to Mekedatu?" he asked while addressing reporters in Hubballi.
This is the second leg of the march that ended abruptly in Ramanagara on January 13, when the third wave of the COVID-19 had peaked. During the march, Siddaramaiah told the media that the padayatra will continue and enter Bengaluru city tomorrow despite Shivaratri festival. Noting that a large number of people are participating in the padayatra despite scorching sun, Shivakumar said the response for the march has been really good. The march that had initially begun at Sangama, the confluence of Cauvery and Arkavathi rivers at Kanakapura in Ramanagara district, on January 9, was scheduled to conclude at Basavanagudi in Bengaluru on January 19, after spanning a total distance of nearly 139 km. It was however temporarily halted on January 13, with limited options before the party, amid surging COVID-19 cases, government prohibiting movement of people, and the Karnataka High Court's strong observations regarding violation of curbs. Several Congress leaders who had attended the march were also infected by coronavirus. The Mekedatu multi-purpose (drinking and power) project involves building a balancing reservoir near Kanakapura in Ramanagara district, to which neighbouring Tamil Nadu is opposed to. The estimated Rs 9,000 crore project once completed is aimed at ensuring drinking water to Bengaluru and neighbouring areas (4.75 TMC) and it can also generate 400 MW power.