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BJP promises infra boom in Karnataka

May 26, 2008 09:20 IST

Infrastructure-strapped Karnataka is expected to see a heavy dose of BJP largesse following its strong victory in the state, according to senior party functionaries, with greater focus on capital city Bangalore.

According to Jagdish Shettigar, chairman of BJP's economic cell and former member of the Prime Minister's Economic Advisory Council, infrastructure, especially road building, will be a priority.

"We have frequently stressed that the level of infrastructure required for Bangalore as the country's IT capital was yet to be developed and that we are committed to it," he said.

It is now also certain that work on the controversial 111-km Nandi Infrastructure Corridor Enterprise connecting Bnagalore and Mysore will be accelerated. "We have always supported NICE," said a BJP leader.

The project had fallen foul of Deve Gowda, former prime minister and chief of the Janata Dal (S), the BJP's former ruling partner in the state, over the question of surplus land acquisition. The BJP had said that it wanted surplus land acquired for the project to be returned to farmers and alleged that Gowda wanted an auction.

Power is the other area of focus, Shettigar said. A programme similar to the Gujarat government's Jyotigram project to provide rural areas with 24 hours of power has been proposed in campaign speeches."The party has already promised a separate rural grid for those areas and free power for irrigation pump sets up to 10 HP," he said.

For urban areas, the plan is to double power production to 10,000 Mw in the next five years. Given the heavy financing requirements, sources said the BJP will encourage public-private partnerships.

Meanwhile, chief minister designate B S Yeddyurappa has promised that the BJP's economic manifesto will be evident in Karnataka's next Budget.

If that is the case, farmers, weavers and even fishermen look forward to agricultural credit at 3 per cent, a revolving fund of Rs 500 crore (Rs 5 billion) for support prices on agricultural produce and Rs 2 per litre subsidy to milk producers.

Two categories of Below Poverty Line (BPL) families will be created in the state, with extremely poor households being seen as those with an annual income of less than Rs 30,000 and poor households as those having an annual income between Rs 30,000 and Rs 50,000.

In regional terms, north Karnataka may be a beneficiary of some major irrigation projects. The region has always been punished for its loyalties to the BJP by the Deve Gowda family regime.

Unlike the well-irrigated and wealthy sugarcane-growing south, where Deve Gowda wields his influence, northern Karnataka has always been arid and dusty.

BS Reporters in Bangalore/New Delhi
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