Farmers in Tamil Nadu staged a protest on Wednesday, January 19, in Thiruvarur, against the controversial Mekedatu reservoir project and condemned the Karnataka Congress party's 'Padyatra' campaign they had carried out in support of the project.
Hundreds of farmers marched from the Thanjavur Irwin Bridge to the Rajaraja Chola statue.
The party had launched a ten-day campaign intending to cover 100 kms, seeking the implementation of the dam project on the river Ontigondlu, 1.5 km away from Mekedatu, near Tamil Nadu border.
However, they stopped their campaign after the Karnataka High Court objected to it due to the COVID restrictions. Other reports suggest that the Yatra was called off over Congress leader Rahul Gandhi's call.
Farmers Slam K'nataka BJP, Congress
The farmers' association, Tamil Nadu Cauvery Vivasayigal Sangam (TNCVS) and its general secretary, P R Pandian, led the rally. The protestors said that the state BJP government was afraid to reject Congress's campaign, as both parties held similar internet - building the dam.
Slamming both the parties, the protestors demanded Chief Minister MK Stalin and AIADMK leader K Palaniswami to speak on the matter, The Indian Express reported.
Ahead of the Tamil Nadu-Karnataka border, towards Bengaluru, the police halted the rally and prohibited the members from proceeding. After the halt, Pandian spoke to the media and said that Congress's move was purely political.
The farmers alleged that the 'Padyatra' was against the law and Supreme Court orders on the inter-State river water issue. The farmers alleged that the party's march was to garner political support for the state assembly elections of 2023.
"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," IE quoted Pandian as saying.
The general secretary said they condemned Congress and all the political parties who supported implementing the dam project. If farmers, citizens and parties do not stand against it, Tamil Nadu will be destroyed, he added.
What Is Mekedatu Dam Project?
The project proposed by the Karnataka government is of building a reservoir on the river Ontigondlu, 1.5 km away from Mekedatu, near the Tamil Nadu border. The reservoir is proposed to meet the drinking water crisis in Bengaluru and nearby regions.
The Siddaramiah government, in 2013, had prepared a report from the project with a storage capacity of 67.16 thousand million cubic feet (TMCF) of water, aimed to supply 4.75 TMCF to Bengaluru and other areas. Besides, it would also generate 400 megawatts of hydroelectric power.
The apex court challenged the project by Tamil Nadu on the ground that it would eat into the state's share of the river water as adjudicated by the court in 2018. The project also needs multiple environment clearances, given that the major of the land would submerge in the forest area.