TN farmers take out anti-Mekedatu rally, slam Karnataka Cong for padayatra


PTI, Jan 19, 2022, 8:29 PM IST

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Hosur (Tamil Nadu): Farmers belonging to a Tamil Nadu ryots association took out an anti-Mekedatu rally here on Wednesday, hitting out at the Karnataka Congress for its padayatra campaign seeking the dam project implementation, and they were prevented by the police on the inter-State border from proceeding further.

The Tamil Nadu Cauvery Vivasayigal Sangam (TNCVS), which led the march, slammed both the Congress and the BJP over the Mekedatu issue and demanded that Chief Minister M K Stalin and AIADMK leader K Palaniswami ”break their silence” on the issue.

Christened ‘Mekedatu Besiege Protest,’ the rally, led by TNCVS general secretary P R Pandian, demanded justice for the State, its farmers, and people on the Mekedatu issue.

After police disallowed the rally to proceed further on the highway towards Bengaluru, about one km ahead of the Tamil Nadu-Karnataka border, Pandian told reporters that the padayatra went against the Supreme Court judgment on the inter-State river water issue. It was against the law and Tamil Nadu, he said.

The march, though halted, is only aimed at garnering political mileage and capturing power again in the 2023 Assembly election to be held in Karnataka, the farmers’ leader alleged.

As the DMK is in alliance with Congress in Tamil Nadu, the ruling party and the government led by it has not condemned the ‘conspiracy’ of the Congress vis-a-vis the Mekedatu issue, he claimed. ”We condemn them and all the political parties.”

Pandian wanted both Chief Minister Stalin and Leader of Opposition Palaniswami to ‘break their silence’ on the issue as silence meant giving up hard-won rights over the Cauvery issue. Stalin, continuing his ‘reticence’ on Mekedatu, considering DMK’s alliance with Congress is not acceptable, he said.

”The Chief Minister should immediately intervene. We are calling all political parties out to come out to protest against Mekedatu. If we take rest, entire Tamil Nadu will be destroyed.” Indirectly, the ‘Central government’ was backing the Congress party in the Cauvery issue and despite the pandemic, the BJP regime in Karnataka had shown that it was ‘afraid’ to reject permission to Congress for its march, he claimed.

Both the BJP and Congress in Karnataka are trying to build the Mekedatu dam and it would not be allowed, he said. The Tamil Nadu Congress Committee chief K S Alagiri is ‘belittling’ the protest of Tamil farmers on the Mekedatu issue, he alleged. Farmers of Tamil Nadu would never accept deprivation of their rights notwithstanding such a move of ‘Alagiri’, he said.

According to the farmers’ body, the rally was against the Mekedatu project proposal and the recent march of the Karnataka Congress to mount pressure on the BJP government to build the dam. Though they had planned to conclude their protest at the ‘Mekedatu area,’ they were stopped by police.

The farmers launched their rally at Tiruvarur on Tuesday and took out rallies in other towns of the Cauvery delta region including Thanjavur before arriving here to proceed to ‘Mekedatu’. Also, it was to urge the Central government to ‘withdraw’ its permission accorded to Karnataka to prepare a Detailed Project Report (DPR) for the dam.

If built, the Mekedatu dam would deprive farmers and people of Tamil Nadu of their rights over Cauvery water, the ryots association said.

Led by Karnataka Pradesh Congress Committee chief D K Shivakumar, the padayatra sought implementation of the Mekedatu Balancing Reservoir-cum-Drinking Water Project. On January 13, the Karnataka Congress halted the padayatra at Ramanagara following High Court observations, a surge in COVID cases, and related government curbs.

The padayatra began at Sangama, the confluence of Cauvery and Arkavathi rivers at Kanakapura in Ramanagara district, on January 9 and the distance that was scheduled to be covered before it reached the Karnataka capital was 139 km.

The Mekedatu Project DPR was submitted to Central Water Commission by Karnataka in January 2019 and its copies were forwarded to Cauvery Water Management Authority for obtaining consent from the co-basin States, including Tamil Nadu, which has been staunchly opposing the project ever since it was proposed by the neighboring State years ago.

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