In its order on Wednesday evening, the government said that “all, inter-district (within Karnataka) and intra-district (within Ramanagara), movement of vehicles and persons for participating in “Nama Neeru Namma Hakku” padayatra, or whichever name it is called with similar purpose from Mekedatu to Bengaluru, is prohibited with immediate effect and will be in force until further order for strict implementation by all Deputy Commissioners, Superintendents of Police, all Police Commissioners of the State.”
The order comes after the Bommai-led administration was sharply criticised by the high court for inaction against the Congress and its padayatra with hundreds and thousands of people at a time when Covid-19 infections across the state have seen a steep and scary rise.
“The transport commissioner is directed to take adequate measures to implement this order and aid the district administrations and police commissioners of the state. Any person violating these measures will be liable to be proceeded against as per the provisions of Section 5l to 60 of the Disaster Management Act, 2005, besides legal action under Section l88 of the IPC, and other legal provisions as applicable,” the state government’s order said.
The government also said that the Congress, in an “act of defiance, is endangering lives of large number of people.”
The Congress started the march from January 9 to pressure the government into initiating works to construct the contentious Mekedatu reservoir-cum-drinking water project.
“The protest/padayatra is likely to aggravate already worsening Covid-19 situation in the state. The state government is satisfied that the current circumstance requires stringent enforcement of Covid-19 behaviour and prevent large gatherings in protests, rallies, padayatra, etc, to break the chain of transmission of Covid-19 in the State,” according to the government order.
The Congress has so far heeded to no threats and continued its march despite several participants testing positive.
Congress state president DK Shivakumar also challenged the government to take action as the march itself promises rich political dividends for the part and him personally in the Old Mysuru region or Vokkaliga belt ahead of crucial zlla and taluka panchayat elections which can help indicate the prospects in 2023 assembly polls.