Monday, July 29, 2013

Cabinet approves recommendations on Article 371(J)

The State Cabinet, which met on Friday, approved the recommendations presented by the Cabinet sub-committee headed by the Rural Development and Panchayat Raj Minister H.K. Patil on the implementation of Article 371 (J) of the Constitution, which provides special status to the Hyderabad Karnataka region comprising Gulbarga, Raichur, Yadgir, Bidar, Bellary and Koppal.

The recommendations were submitted earlier.

The amendment to the Constitution was envisaged to provide reservation for those from the six districts in the Gulbarga division in educational institutions and government jobs and to provide other special facilities.


Thursday, July 25, 2013

Delay in projects causes costs to skyrocket

Karanja and Varahi irrigation projects are yet to be completed

The cost of two irrigation projects in the State have escalated more than 60 times due to the inordinate delay in their implementation.

The total cost of the Karanja Project in Bidar was estimated to be only Rs. 9.9 crore when its implementation commenced in 1970-71. Though four decades have passed, it has not been completed. This has not only prevented farmers from getting irrigation benefits, but has also caused a burden on the State exchequer as the project cost has now escalated to Rs. 635.18 crore. This was revealed by Water Resources Minister M.B. Patil in the Legislative Council on Wednesday. The project, which was envisaged to provide irrigation benefits to 35,614 hectares of land, now only irrigates 22,793 hectares even after 42 years of commencement of works. The Minister assured the House of completing the pending work in about 18 months.

As if the delay in implementation was not enough, the Karanja project has also been embroiled in scams, with the Minister himself admitting that there are 20 instances of irregularities.

Similarly, the cost of Varahi irrigation project in Udupi district, the work on which started in 1979, has increased from Rs. 9.43 crore to Rs. 569.56 crore due to delays. The project has been able to irrigate only 670 hectares as against the target of 15,702 hectares. He assured the House of completing the project by 2014-15.


Gulbarga to get rail division HQ

Railway minister C.

Promising to improve the railway network of the state to bring it on par with national standards, railway minister Mallikarjun Kharge assured on Tuesday that he would see to it that the long pending demand of the region for a divisional railway headquarters was fulfilled soon.

"In addition to the Central, South Central and South Western Railway zones, efforts are being made to carve out a new zone," he told reporters. The proposed headquarters at Gulbarga would cover Yadgir, Bidar, Raichur, parts of Bijapur, besides Gulbarga.

While the state has three railway divisions for over 3,150 kms of railway tracks, Maharashtra has seven and Andhra Pradesh, six.

Kharge, who laid the foundation stone for doubling of the Gulbarga-Hotgi railway line and modernisation of the railway station here, announced that a pilot project connecting Naded with Yavatmal in Maharashtra would be launched soon as well.

As for the work on the doubling of the 98 km long Gulbarga-Hotgi line, which forms part of the Mumbai -Chennai trunk route, Kharge said the project was scheduled to be completed in 30 months at a cost of Rs 350 crore.

"This line forms part of the Daund-Gulbarga doubling project which is partly funded by ADB. The doubling will enable more freight-traffic to Mumbai and Delhi sections," he explained.


CMC officials clear drains in Bidar

Two teams of city municipal council (CMC) officials cleaned drains in the old city and extension areas here on Monday as well as roads.

Drains were blocked and water overflowed onto roads following heavy rain. The big drain around the outer fort wall of the city too was blocked, which led to traffic jams at the railway crossing on Hyderabad road, and the traffic intersections at Basaveshwara, Choubarah and Madiwal circles.


New president for Bidar ZP

Amlan Aditya Biswas, Regional Commissioner; P.C Jaffer, Deputy Commissioner; and Ujjwal Kumar Ghosh, Chief Executive Officer of the Bidar Zilla Panchayat with Santoshamma Pundalikappa in Bidar on Monday.

Santoshamma Pundalikappa was elected president of the Bidar Zilla Panchayat here on Monday.

Ms. Pundalikappa was elected on a Bharatiya Janata Party ticket, but has switched sides to the Karnataka Janata Paksha (KJP) hence.

She got 19 votes against the BJP’s Deepika Sachin Rathod who managed to get only 10 votes. Two of the 31 member-panchayat were absent.

Those voting for Ms. Pundalikappa included eight members of the BJP who have joined the KJP along with six independents, four members of the Janata Dal (Secular) and one Congress member.

The president’s post is reserved for a woman from the Scheduled Castes. Ms Rathod had been voted out in a no-confidence motion last month. Amlan Aditya Biswas, Regional Commissioner; P.C. Jaffer, Deputy Commissioner, and Ujjwal Kumar Ghosh, chief executive officer, were present.


Monday, July 22, 2013

High Court issues notice to MLA Ashok Kheny

High Court issues notice to MLA Ashok Kheny

Bengaluru: The high court ordered that notices should be issued to the Election Commission and MLA Ashok Kheny, MD of Nandi Infrastructure Corridor Enterprise, following an election petition filed by T.J. Abraham, who has challenged his election as an MLA from the Bidar South Assembly Constituency in the recently held state assembly election.

Abraham has challenged the election of Kheny as MLA, mainly on the grounds that Kheny is not a voter anywhere in Karnataka and that he is not a citizen of India as he has voluntarily accepted a citizenship of the US. Also, Kheny is engaged in a contract with the Karnataka government and the same is subsisting still, he contended.

HC warns of CBI probe into state film awards

Rapping both the state government and Karnataka Film Chamber of Commerce and others concerned over the controversy relating to state film awards, the HC on Tuesday asked why the CBI should not be brought in to investigate state awards since 2009.

Justice Ram Mohan Reddy made the observation when the respondents in the case alleged that the producer who approached the court challenging the state film awards for 2010-11 has made several telephone calls to the members, seeking the award for his film.

They claimed that the producer who frequently bagged the awards has approached the court after the selection committee members and other did not heed to his demand seeking an award for his film. They even produced the list of calls made by the producer.

The state government, which was told to make its stand clear over withdrawal of the awards for 2010-11 by Friday, sought more time. The court adjourned the case to Tuesday.

Producer Basanth Kumar Patil and actress Priya Hassan have questioned the final list of the selection advisory committee for 2010-2011. The court on Thu­rsday had directed the state to withdraw the awards.


Friday, July 12, 2013

Bidar-Humnabad railway line to open on Oct 2

The Bidar-Humnabad railway line will become operational on Gandhi Jayanti day (October 2). The line is part of the Bidar-Gulbarga line, which is under construction.

Announcing this here on Thursday, at a felicitation function organised by the District Congress, Railway Minister Mallikarjun Kharge said that a push pull train would run on the Bidar-Humnabad-Bidar route, as work on 60 km of the 105-km Bidar-Gulbarga line had been completed. The new line will benefit people of Bidar district immensely, he said.

For the early completion of this, he said, he had sanctioned an additional Rs 110 crore as against the provision of Rs 10 crore in this year’s budget. The project would be completed in three years. The line would have a 1.5 km-long tunnel at Margutti village and the foundation stone for the Rs 60-crore tunnel would be laid shortly.

Another major component is the construction of a railway bridge across the Bennithora rivulet at a cost of Rs 20 crore, which will also be started soon.

The other decisions announced by Kharge include converting the tri-weekly Solapur-Yeshwantpur Express into a daily train by August end or in the first week of September, commencement of electrification work on the Wadi-Gulbarga line and doubling of the Gulbarga-Hotgi line shortly, both with the assistance of the Asian Development Bank.

PM, Sonia promise funds

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi had agreed to extend additional finance to the fund- starved Railways for its massive development and expansion plans, Kharge said.

The minister said he had already met the two leaders and convinced them of the need to extend additional finance from the general pool to the railways and both had agreed to oblige. He, however, could not specify the quantum of additional funds sought.

He said the Indian Railways was facing a huge burden of salaries to 14 lakh employees and pensions to 12 lakh retired employees. This came to Rs 80,000 crore per year, out of the Railway budget outlay of Rs 1.43 lakh crore. The Railways, with a line network of 60,000 km and carrying 2.18 crore people every day, is the third biggest railway network in the world, he said.


Thursday, July 11, 2013

Timings of Nanded–Bangalore express will be modified, says Minister Kharge

M. Mallikarjun Kharge, Railway Minister, has said that the timings of the Nanded-Bangalore express will be modified to make it an overnight journey from Bidar to Bangalore.

“It may take some time. But it will be done,” Mr. Kharge said at a meeting to receive public grievances at the Bidar Zilla Panchayat on Wednesday.

He said that senior officials were studying “all possible ways to make this happen.”

“They are exploring options to speed up the train or reduce the speed of other trains. They will come up with a concrete proposal that is technically feasible. The change in timing will be implemented after obtaining clearance from the Railway Board and other bodies,” he said.

Officials were also considering the option of starting a new train from Bidar to Bangalore. If a pithole (where trains are washed and maintained) was set up in Bidar, then it would be easy to start new trains from there, he said.

New train

Deputy Commissioner P.C. Jaffer said that a new train could be introduced from Bidar via Vikharabad in Andhra Pradesh, Wadi and Raichur to Bangalore. He favoured a link between Bidar and Wadi that would provide a connection to the Solapur-Yehwantpur train. Another option would be to extend the Bangalore-Kachiguda train to Bidar, Dr. Jaffer said.

He said that land was available at the new Khanapur railway station on the outskirts of Bidar to lay an additional line or build a washing and maintenance centre.


Mr. Kharge said that Rs. 50 crore would be released, in addition to this year’s annual budgetary allocation of Rs. 10 crore, for the Bidar-Gulbarga line. The State government could then be asked to sanction the same amount.Works to be taken up

He said that work on the tunnel between Humnabad and Gulbarga would begin by September. “We are also planning to operate a push-pull train on the 50-km stretch between Bidar and Humnabad. The train will begin operations by September-end,” the Minister said, after consulting B.P. Pandey, General Manager of Secunderabad division.

Work on a railway bridge, near Kurikota village in Gulbarga district, would begin in due course, he added.

“A decision on setting up a divisional headquarters in Gulbarga will be taken only after studying its viability. Senior officials of three zones in Secunderabad, Mumbai and Hubli will have to study the situation and approve the proposal. We can take a decision on the issue only then,” he said.

No losses

Later, speaking to presspersons, Mr. Kharge said: “We are not getting as much revenue as we want. But, there are no losses.”

Commenting on the financial health of the Indian Railways, he said that some Railway Ministers had expressed certain concerns in the past, but there was nothing to be alarmed about.

“We may not be making huge profits. But, our revenues are decent enough. Of the Rs. 1.43 lakh crore that we earn every year, over Rs. 79,000 crore is spent on salaries and very little is left for development projects,” he said.

Fare revision

He described the fare revision in the last Railway budget as “nominal”.

“There have been proposals in the past to streamline the process of revising fares. We have examined proposals such as setting up the Railway Tariff Revision Authority,” he said.

He said that a proposal to set up the Railway Tariff Revision Authority had been forwarded to the Inter-Ministerial Group for consultations.

“Once it studies the proposal and the secretaries concerned give their opinions, then it will be referred to the Cabinet for a final decision. The decision to revise fares will be taken in consultation with the Railway Tariff Revision Authority once the mechanism is in place,” he said.

He reiterated that the Union government would release an additional Rs. 300 crore to take up railway projects in the State. N. Dharam Singh, MP; Sharan Prakash Patil, district in-charge Minister; and Latha Harkude, Zilla Panchayat president, were present.


Monday, July 8, 2013

Bidar pins hopes on Kharge, wants nod for railway projects.

Mallikarjun Kharge is all set to visit the district for the first time after being appointed as Union Railway Minister.

People have a lot of hopes as Kharge was born in Waravatti village of Bhalki taluk. ‘Kharge is our district,’ they observed.

They also have a number of expectations of Kharge. Topping the list is a state capital that is closer to Bidar than Bangalore.

The citizens are also hoping for a shorter train journey from Nanded to Bangalore.

As the present train service takes 17 hours to reach the capital, people have been demanding a shorter journey between 12-13 hours.

They also want the Nanded-Bangalore train to depart from Bidar station by 5 pm daily.

If the demand is not feasible due to technical reasons, they want a night train between Manmad and Mysore via Bidar.

They are expecting an immediate solution to the issue of the Bidar-Gulbarga railway line.

As work on the line has been completed in Bidar district, the citizens want work on the track in Gulbarga district to be finished at the earliest. This line can save time as well as connect to the nearest route to Delhi, through Manmad, they remarked.

The District Congress Committee will urge Kharge, on his visit to Bidar on July 10, to consider new railway lines from Nanded-Bidar and Bodhan-Bidar as it is already mentioned in the earlier budget.

People of the district still cherish former railway minister Dinesh Trivedi as he sanctioned the inter-city train between Bidar-Hyderabad during his budget session.

A district delegation headed by MP and former chief minister N Dharam Singh had met Trivedi to propose the inter-city train.

Singh had assured of gifting the train service to the district as he had done his pilot training at the Bidar Air Force Atation.

The people are now optimistic that Kharge’s visit will usher new developments in his home district.


IGNOU regional center sought for Bidar.

The Deputy Commissioner has urged Indira Gandhi National Open University to establish a regional centre in Bidar.

A regional centre has a full-fledged office and library with teachers and counsellors. Through such centres, students can not only choose courses, but also attend classes, and appear for examinations.

“The centre would give a boost to education not just in the district but also in the Hyderabad Karnataka region. It would be in line with the 12th Plan objectives of creating increased access to higher education in backward areas,” Deputy Commissioner P.C. Jaffer said in a letter to IGNOU Vice-Chancellor M. Aslam.

“Bidar is a part of the HK region that was neglected during the regime of the Hyderabad Nizam. It still remains among the most backward regions of the country. As per the composite development index of Dr. D. M. Nanjundappa committee, Gulbarga ranked 20th on the list of 20 districts, Bidar was in the 19th position, Raichur 16th and Bellary 11th. Of the 39 most backward taluks in the State, 21 are from the Hyderabad Karnataka region. As per the 2005 State Human Development Report, Hyderabad Karnataka districts occupy positions from 23rd to 27th on the list of 27 districts. The number of districts has increased to 31 now. But the position of the Hyderabad Karnataka districts has not changed,” he said. The 12th Plan speaks of capacity building to increase general enrolment rate in higher education to 30 per cent in 2020-21 from less than 15 per cent now. It speaks of adding seats in existing institutions of higher learning, and to create new institutions to address critical regional and social gaps.

The 12th Plan aims at moving higher education from the elitist threshold of 15 per cent to the mass target of 50 per cent.

The enrolment target is set at 10 million students, including one million in the open and distance learning mode, by the end of the 12th Plan. A regional centre of IGNOU in Bidar will add to the efforts in this direction, Mr. Jaffer said. “We have assured IGNOU that we will take care of their logistic demands like land, water and power supply and administrative clearances. We are hopeful of a positive reply,” Mr. Jaffer said.


Tuesday, July 2, 2013

BJP loses power in Bidar ZP

The BJP lost power in the Bidar Zilla Panchayat after seven of its members who had pledged allegiance to the KJP joined others in voting out president Deepika Sachin Rathod here on Monday.

A total of 19 members, including the seven members owing allegiance to the KJP, five Janata Dal (Secular) members, one Congress member, and four Independents supported a no-confidence motion against the president.

There are 31 members in the ZP with 18 elected on the BJP ticket, five JD(S) members, two Congress, and six Independent members.

The other 13 members, including Ms. Rathod and vice-president Latha Shantkumar Harkude, were absent during voting on the no-confidence motion.

Seven of the BJP members announced that they joined the KJP last year. BJP member Shailendra Beldale went on to contest the Assembly elections on a KJP ticket from Bidar South constituency. The BJP had assumed power after winning 18 of the 31 seats in the House in 2011.

Reserved post

Ms. Rathod was elected president in October 2012 for a 20-month term.

The post of the president is reserved for a woman from the Scheduled Castes and she was the only BJP member eligible. Santoshamma Pundalik Rao of the Congress and Kasturibai Bouddhe of the JD (S) are the other two members from the category. Some of the members who voted for Monday’s motion said Ms. Rao was likely to be elected the next president.

‘Neglected duties’

On Monday, Mr. Beldale who led the group that moved the motion said Ms. Rathod had neglected her duties and had failed to take up development projects. “She did not constitute standing committees even nine months after taking charge as president. She did not hold meetings to discuss and approve the action plan for the ZP,” he alleged.

However, Prabhu Chauhan, Aurad MLA, said: “They were elected on the BJP ticket. They should not have done it.” Ms. Rathod is his relative.

Babu Wali, BJP district unit general secretary, maintained that the seven members who voted for the motion were still in the BJP and said the party was contemplating action against them. “In fact, we have written to the Election Commission of India to disqualify Mr. Beldale who contested as a KJP candidate despite being a BJP member in the ZP,” he said.


Ujjwal Kumar Ghosh, Chief Executive Officer of the ZP, said he would send a report to Regional Commissioner Amlan Aditya Biswas about the motion. “He will fix a date to elect the new president,” Mr. Ghosh said.

BJP sources, however, claimed that the motion was moved as a result of the political rivalry between Mr. Chauhan and Gurupadappa Nagamarapalli, KJP strongman and MLA.

“The ZP is another platform on which their traditional rivalry is being played out,” a senior leader said.


Rs 600 crore grant to speed up railway projects in state

The Ministry of Railways and the state government have worked out an arrangement to release additional grants to the tune of over Rs 600 crore, contributing Rs 300 crore each. (AP/File)

In his first gesture for his home state Karnataka, Railways Minister Mallikarjun M Kharge has put on fast-track several long pending projects, including the Kottur-Harihar and Kadur-Chikmagalur lines and the gauge conversion of Kolar-Chikballapur line.

At a meeting here on Monday, the Ministry of Railways and the state government worked out an arrangement to release additional grants to the tune of over Rs 600 crore. The state government and the railways would release Rs 300 crore each.

Kharge, who reviewed the status of the projects, said the additional grants would be utilised to speed up ongoing projects, which were taken up on a cost-sharing basis.

The total funds earmarked to complete the works for 2013-14 would be about Rs 1,200 crore.

“With this, the pace of several works taken up for doubling, electrification and laying new lines in the state will get a boost,” he said.

A decision to release additional grants for the ongoing projects was taken at the review meeting with senior-level officials of the state government, including Chief Secretary S V Ranganath, Principal Secretary to PWD Venkataiah and General Managers of South Central Railways (DCR), South Western Railways (SWR) and Central Railways (CR).

According to Kharge, there are small hiccups involving land acquisition for the Kadur-Chikmagalur new line.

“The state government officials who were present at the meeting promised to clear the hurdles as early as possible. The Kadur-Chikmagalur line is expected to be commissioned by November,” he said.

The Kolar-Chikballapur gauge conversion, to be completed by December-end, is also facing land acquisition problem and the state government is yet to hand it over to the railway authorities.

Work on the Gadwal-Raichur line is expected to be commissioned by August 15. Kharge said it was also decided to advance the commissioning of the Hutgi-Gulbarga doubling by one year. It was supposed to be completed by 2015-16.

The new Hassan-Bangalore line has encountered land acquisition problem near Kunigal stud farm, he said. The Chief Secretary has promised to solve it expeditiously, he added.

The Bidar-Gulbarga new railway line was completed till Humnabad section in Bidar district and shuttle services would be operated on it soon.

Kharge hinted that it would take another two to three years for the Humnabad-Gulbarga section to be completed, and the process of inviting tenders for the construction of the 1.5 km tunnel in that line has begun.

Attributing the delay in completing the doubling work of Mysore-Bangalore section to the relocation of Tipu Sultan’s armoury near Srirangapatna, he said: “By securing permission from the Archeological Survey of India to relocate the historical structure, all hurdles have been cleared now.”

Kharge ruled out the possibilities of hiking railway fares now. “The burden of increase in the prices of petroleum products would be absolved by the Ministry and will not be 
transferred to commuters,” he said.