Thursday, January 31, 2008

Red revolution on in Mahabaleshwar

Pune, Jan 29
Many decades after the British introduced strawberry cultivation in the Mahabaleshwar- Panchgani belt, near Pune, an initiative to sell the fruit in European markets on an experimental basis last year has led to the first firm export order of 300 tonnes this season.
In early January, Hubli-based Ken Agritech India Ltd entered into an agreement with Sriram Fruit Processing Co-op Society, Mahabaleshwar to source the fruit for export. The overseas marketing will be done by Belgian company Jobrex N V that holds a stake in Ken Agritech.

Lack of IQF
According to Mr Vivek Naik, Managing Director, Ken Agritech, while the export order augurs well for Indian strawberry, the export potential is much higher at 3000 tonnes per season. The primary limitation in moving toward this figure is the lack of Individual Quick Freezing (IQF), which essential to tap the overseas markets, he says.
To overcome at least this stumbling block, Ken Agritech is investing Rs 10 crore in setting up Tropicool Fruits Pvt Limited, a large IQF facility at Hubli, in association with ITC. It is also planning to invest in setting up an in-field cold chain and has already undertaken the task of improving the quality and yield.
“Currently the yield is around 6-7 tonnes an acre that can be raised to 11 tonnes. We are helping farmers to adopt better farming practices including the use of approved pesticides, and are moving towards Eurogap by next year,” Mr Naik said, adding that they are already implementing farmer history records from last year itself.

More area
On their part, the 850 small farmers who comprise the All India Strawberry Growers Association have been galvanized into action on account of growing demand from both overseas and the domestic market.
Mr Kisan Bhilare, Chairman, Sriram Society, revealed that the area under cultivation is up 30 per cent from 1,500 acres last year to 2,000 acres this year, and the yield expected is 15,000 tonnes from last year’s 10,000 tonnes. The season typically lasts from November to March/April.

Local demand
The local produce not only is lapped up by companies like Reliance Fresh, active marketing by members of the producing farmer has helped it find its way into malls in Bangalore, Hyderabad and Pune. “Every family has one brother producing strawberry, and the other is marketing it. Our young men are no longer going to cities for work,” Bhilare said. Clearly, there’s another red revolution in the making and this time it’s happening at Mahabaleshwar.

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Tuesday, January 29, 2008

KTwo sets up Belgaum centre

BS Reporter / Chennai/ Bangalore January 29, 2008

KTwo Technology Solutions, a Bangalore-based software products firm on Monday announced the opening of its Healthcare Centre of Excellence at the K L E Society’s College of Engineering & Technology, Belgaum.

The Centre of Excellence will primarily focus on product development for the healthcare sector. The centre will initially house 20 R&D experts and is expected to grow to 150-200 in the next 18-24 months.

“Opening a Centre of Excellence here would provide a backing to the untapped talent pool in the region,” said Anant Koppar, Chairman & CEO, KTwo Technology Solutions.

Elaborating, he added, “It is important for companies to go where the talent pool is available. Establishing the centre in Belgaum will set new standards and it will become a model centre for others to follow.”

KTwo, a member of the Intel India Design House Program, is designing medical solutions based on Embedded Intel Architecture. KTwo sees sustainable talent in the North Karnataka region, particularly in Belgaum.

“We are very pleased that KTwo has set up their centre in our college. We believe that the centre will definitely prove beneficial to the students as well the company in developing world class products,” says S C Pilli, Principal - K L E Society’s College of Engineering & Technology, Belgaum.

KTwo Technology Solutions - http://www.ktwo.co.in/

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Sunday, January 27, 2008

IT Development in Hubli-Dharwad - RTI Application

To,
Public Information Officer
Mr.Jeetendra Singh
Officer on Special Duty
Department of IT, BT, S&T
6th Floor, 5th Stage, MS Building
Dr.Ambedkar Veedhi
Bangalore - 560 001

Through:
Public Information Officer
Rahul Chhabra
Minister (Press, Information and Culture)
2107 Massachusetts Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20008

Respected Sirs,

Sub: Government initiatives to develop Mysore, Mangalore and Hubli-Dharwad as IT destination between January, 2001 and January, 2008 – Information requested under Right to Information Act (RTI) – regarding.

Refer: Press release about Karnataka’s share in IT exports - http://www.livemint.com/2008/01/23234743/Karnataka-to-account-for-44-o.html.

I, a concerned NRI, hereby request you to furnish the details with regard to all the government initiatives to develop Mysore, Mangalore and Hubli-Dharwad as IT destinations between January, 2001 and January, 2008, in view of the recent press release as referenced above.
I have the following specific questions:

1. List of all the government initiatives and efforts by Department of Information Technology and Bio Technology, to develop Mysore, Mangalore and Hubli-Dharwad as IT destinations since January, 2001 to January, 2008. Please provide all the official correspondence in this regard.

2. Details of how many special economic zones have been sanctioned for the tier II cities of Mysore, Mangalore and Hubli-Dharwad between January, 2001 and January 2008. Please provide all the official correspondence in this regard.

3. Details of all the government efforts that include the Cabinet approval, acquiring of land for Special Economic Zone/s, approvals of SEZ initiatives forwarded to Board of Approvals, (BoA) for SEZ, Ministry of Commerce and Industry, New Delhi, between the aforementioned period, for the tier II cities of Mysore, Mangalore and Hubli-Dharwad. Please provide all the official correspondence in this regard.

4. What are the details of approved private investments into Mysore, Mangalore and Hubli-Dharwad between the aforesaid period. How many IT companies have been approved to start their operations and how many IT companies have started their operations amongst these three tier II cities, during the aforesaid period. Please furnish the details of approved investments for each approved IT company in these cities for the same period.

5. I would like to draw your attention to the press coverage about two IT majors evincing interest to start their operations within Hubli-Dharwad, during 2005 - 2006, captured at my personal blog:
http://nageeta.blogspot.com/2006/01/2-it-majors-evince-interest-in-hubli.html,

Speicifically I would like to know the following information:

* The names of these two major IT companies, the names of the representatives of these two IT major companies including their contact numbers, official addresses and email addresses
* The efforts by Dept of IT and BT to follow up with these IT majors to look into their investment interests, in the form of emails, letters, faxes, details of physical visits. Please provide all the evidences in this regard.
* The reasons as to why these two IT majors did not get interested into Hubli-Dharwad – specific details as provided by the representatives of these two IT majors through emails, letters, faxes etc. Please provide all the evidences in this regard.
* Did the same two IT majors decide to invest in other cities in lieu of Hubli-Dharwad within Karnataka? If yes, which cities were chosen by the two IT major companies and what were the specific efforts by Dept of IT and BT to convince them with their final destinations? What were the total investment proposals cleared for these two IT majors in their final destinations? Please provide details of all forms of correspondence in this regard.

6. What specific measures have been taken by the government of Karnataka / Department of IT and BT to develop Hubli-Dharwad as IT destination after the successful IT Meet held in May, 2006? Please provide all the correspondence by Dept of IT and BT with the IT companies that evinced interest to invest in Hubli-Dharwad.

7. The long dead website, that was prepared and launched for the IT Meet of May 2006, @ http://www.destinationhubli.in/, is a glaring reflection of the government’s namesake efforts to develop Hubli-Dharwad as IT / ITeS destination. Why is the website, http://www.destinationhubli.in/ that was opened during the May 2006 IT Meet, always showing “This site is under construction. Please visit again to check the status. Thanks!” If the website has been under construction since the launching of the same during May 2006 IT Meet in Hubli-Dharwad, why was the website launched at all at the IT Meet? Specifically I would like to know official / department, who / which is responsible for the maintenance of this website. What are the official reasons for the website to be always showing the said status, soon after the IT Meet in May, 2006? Please provide all the official correspondence related to the creation / launch / maintenance of the website. What measures are in place / will be taken to make sure that the said website is active all the time?

8. What official measures have been taken to have the granted SEZ project for TCS Ltd, (Tata Consulting Services, Ltd) to start in Hubli-Dharwad? I request you to please furnish all the details of acquiring the land by KIADB, allotment of land to TCS Ltd, in regards to starting the SEZ project in Hubli-Dharwad.

Looking forward to hearing from your good offices, at your earliest administrative convenience.

Thanking you in anticipation.

Truly,
NAGESH TAVARAGERI

Date: 2/11/2008
Place: Cerritos, CA

From
Nagesh Tavarageri
Cerritos, CA 90703 USA

Copies submitted for favor of information and necessary action, to:

1. Hon.Secretary, Department of IT and BT, Bangalore
2. Hon.Deputy Commissioner, Dharwad, Karnataka
3. Hon.Commissioner, HDMC, Hubli, Karnataka.
4. Hon. State Chief Information Commissioner, Karnataka Information Commission, Room # 331 – 347, Gate # 1, 3rd Stage, 3rd Floor, MS Building, Vidhana Veedhi, Bangalore – 560 001.

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Thursday, January 24, 2008

IIIT Hubli-Dharwad finally becomes functional

New Avenues: Gururaj Deshpande and Jayashri Deshpande launching the finishing school programmes of the International Institute of Information Technology-Hubli Dharwad, in Hubli on Thursday. IIT-B Director S. Sadagopan is seen.

HUBLI: After having remained inactive for four and half years, the International Institute of Information Technology Hubli-Dharwad (IIIT-HD) finally became functional with the launching of two Finishing School Programmes by IIIT-Bangalore here on Thursday.
Chairman and CEO of Sycamore Networks, U.S., Gururaj Deshpande and Jayashri Deshpande, co-founder of Deshpande Foundation, formally launched the new programmes at the state-of-the-art IIIT-HD campus housed in the IT Park in Hubli on Thursday.
Director of IIIT-B S. Sadagopan announced that two finishing school programmes — certification programmes in Information Technology-Outsourcing and Embedded and Real Time Systems — would be offered to students of north Karnataka on its Hubli campus. IIIT-HD would be partnering with Unified Softech and Micro Academy of Hubli for imparting training in the specified fields.
Mr. Sadagopan explained why it took them four and half years after IIIT-B’s Hubli campus was formally inaugurated, to launch a programme. He said: “IIIT-B’s Hubli campus was ready before the IIT-B was ready to take up the task. Since we believed in quality we did not want to hurry.”
He said the subjects for the certification programme were chosen after careful consideration.
To a query, he said that including both the programmes the intake would be around 50.
The first batch would start in February and would end with a placement exercise at the end of May. In the next academic year, IIIT-HD would be able to run three batches to train about 150 students, he said.
Mr. Sadagopan said IIIT-B would be continuing the programme of “training the trainers.”

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Deshpande Foundation to award 20 fellowships

HUBLI: Deshpande Foundation, a non-profit organisation, will award fellowships to 20 young social entrepreneurs to take up projects on various issues in north Karnataka.
Gururaj Deshpande, founder of the foundation and chairman of Sycamore Networks, U.S., told presspersons here on Wednesday that the foundation would involve about 1,000 students in various social work projects.
The foundation will extend grants to 50 non-governmental organisations to encourage them to work on new concepts and bring them into practice, Mr. Deshpande added.

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Monday, January 21, 2008

United Way plans expansion of benefits to India

Sunday, 01.20.2008, 10:26pm (GMT-7)
NEW YORK: Following the recent visit to India by leaders of United Way, the global, non-commercial charity organization has embarked on a major expansion of its India activities and increased benefits to the needy in India. During the visit, the Global United Way leadership visited with corporate and other community leaders in New Delhi, Mumbai and Baroda to discuss philanthropic partnerships, and establishment of local United Ways in several more cities across the country.
Currently, United Way operates in Mumbai and Baroda. The organization seeks to extend the successes of these organizations to Ahmedabad, Bangalore, Bhubaneswar, Chennai, Goa, Hubli-Dharwad, Hyderabad, Kochi, Kolkata, the National Capital Region and Pune. TI In New Delhi, United Way convened a meeting attended by over 50 individuals from US multinational companies, NGOs and other area leaders to discuss such a partnership and to determine the immediate next steps necessary to establish a local organization.
"There is already a strong movement of individuals, companies and organizations in India who are looking for opportunities to impact critical human issues here," said Teresa Hall Bartels, President of United Way International. "With its community building expertise and focus on reporting and accountability, United Way is an ideal philanthropic partner." Among the participants and United Way supporters at the meeting was legendary Indian Cricketer Kapil Dev.
United Way Mumbai has been instrumental in developing a "Help Line" focusing on disaster response and preparedness while also addressing the day to day health and hygiene issues of the community. Additionally, they’ve developed a number of programs in the areas of education, civic development and women empowerment. While in Mumbai, the Global United Way leadership team visited the United Way project in Dharavi and witnessed the difference it is making in this slum area on a daily basis, like garbage removal and dissemination of health & hygiene information.
The United Way team also met with the Confederation of Indian Industry, US Consul General Michael Owens, and the Indian Merchant’s Chamber to talk about further engaging regional volunteer leadership. United Way hopes to connect their existing public and private sector partners around the globe who have interests in India with sustainable development opportunities. Its National Corporate Leadership initiative generates more than $1 billion annually and is comprised of 125 Fortune 500 companies in more than 40,000 locations worldwide. "India is quickly becoming a strategic epicenter for our global, knowledge-based economy.
Our partners are actively seeking investment opportunities here. Our intent is to simply connect their philanthropic aspirations with sustainable, life-changing investment opportunities," said Bartels. As the oldest United Way in India, established in 1987, United Way Baroda is another ideal partner for these interests. The Global United Way leadership team met with a number of active community supporters hoping to build on their efforts. The group witnessed their good work directly during a moving visit to a few of their partner agencies.
The Shram Mandir Hospital and Rehabilitation Centre for Leprosy affected people; Shram Mandir, which provides avenues of livelihood and shelter for the residents and their families as well; and The Shroff Foundation Trust, which works in the tribal belt of Gujarat, providing all round economic, social and cultural development of the people. The Trust’s activities reach 47,500 families in 162 villages of Gujarat state. "United Way Baroda is not only an example for the rest of India to follow, it serves as a strategic model for all United Ways around the world seeking to best engage communities to meet their most pressing needs," said Gallagher.
United Way Expansion in India Initiative was launched in 2007 with the objective of expanding United Ways across India. Led by Roma Kapoor, Director, India Initiatives, United Way is increasing awareness and support for regional communities across India amongst non-resident Indians (NRIs) and with North American businesses with interests in India.
"India United Way Expansion Fund has been created to invite and encourage multinational corporations and NRIs to contribute," said Kapoor, "and the United Way Friends of India Program is an easy way for all friends of India, be it NRIs or not, to become a part of the process for strengthening local communities and improving the lives of the citizens of India."

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Wockhardt Hospitals plans Rs569 crore investment in hospital projects

21 January 2008
RSS feeds

Wockhardt Hospitals Limited, the only private hospital group in India, associate of Harvard Medical International has chalked out an ambitious growth strategy with an investment of Rs569 crore in expanding, developing and constructing both greenfield and brownfield expansion plans.

The hospital chain has been promoted by Indian pharmaceutical major Wockhardt.
The key elements of the growth strategy includes strengthening the healthcare provider's position in major metropolitan areas and establishing a presence in selected smaller Tier II cities.

Wockhardt Hospitals has grown from three hospitals with 139 beds in 2000, to a network of 10 super-specialty hospitals and five regional specialty ICU hospitals, with a total of 1,374 inpatient beds.

Besides establishing additional healthcare facilities, the company plans to strengthen its presence in major metropolitan areas, such as Bangalore, Mumbai, Kolkata, Hyderabad and Delhi, by expanding the current operations through new greenfield and brownfield projects, as well as increasing beds at its existing hospitals.

It is already engaged in expanding its bed capacity at its Mulund hospital in Mumbai by adding 270 beds. This super-specialty hospital is one of the first hospitals in South Asia to have received international accreditation from Joint Commission International ("JCI"), the largest accreditor of healthcare organisations in the United States.

Wockhardt Hospitals also expects to be among the first major private healthcare services providers to commence focused tertiary care operations in select Tier II cities, such as Madgaon at Goa, Bhopal and Jabalpur in Madhya Pradesh, Nashik in Maharastra, Bhavnagar and Bhuj in Gujarat, Ludhiana in Punjab, Patna in Bihar, Hubli in Karnataka and Varanasi in Uttar Pradesh, by adding new healthcare facilities.

Its evaluation criteria for new opportunities include the demographics and revenue potential of the local population, the competitive landscape, location and cost, and for existing facilities, the skill, specialty and reputation of doctors and other medical and non-medical staff, the work culture of the institution and the quality of the infrastructure.

The company intends to leverage growth model with flexible expansion plans that would improve profitability at the existing mature hospitals and increase occupancy rates at newer hospitals, with a focus on the high-value end of the healthcare services market while developing network of regional specialty ICU hospitals.

For the fiscal year ended 31 March 2007 and the nine months ended December 31, 2007, the average length of stay at the hospitals was 4.7 and 4.4 days, respectively.

At new hospitals, which it has added in the last three years, Wockhardt Hospitals plans to increase occupancy through extensive marketing, expansion of its referral network and increase in community outreach programmes to gain market share in the regions in which it operates.

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Saturday, January 19, 2008

Accentia lists GDR in Singapore stock exchange

Thiruvananthapuram: Accentia Technologies, a Technopark-based firm specialising in Healthcare Receivable Cycle Management (HRCM), has opened its Global Depository Receipts (GDR) facility with the Singapore Stock Exchange.
This will help the company attract and receive investments in foreign exchange from institutional and individual investors across the world.
The approval for opening GDRs for listing and quotation of Accentia shares worth U.S. $ 2 crore at Rs.10 per share was issued by the Singapore exchange recently. GDRs are instruments that enable investors abroad to buy and sell company shares and receive dividends in foreign exchange, a practice approved by all major exchanges and financial wings of governments across board. “In our quest to grow as a major global presence in the HRCM segment, the issue of GDRs enables us to have access to funds in hard currency for the acquisition of companies abroad in a smooth and seamless way,” points out Pradeep Viswambharan, CEO, Accentia Technologies.“Berggruen A.P., a Mauritius-based institutional investment company has already invested an amount of U.S. $ 28 lakh through GDR to buy Accentia shares,” adds C.K. Sooraj, director, Operations. “This will enable us to go forward with and complete our plans to acquire two companies in the U.K. and one in Dubai.”
Accentia has already taken over two HRCM companies in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, U.S., one in Portland, Oregon, U.S., two in Bangalore and one in Kochi. Formalities for the acquisition of one company each in Hyderabad, Hubli and Belgaum are in progress, Mr. Viswambharan said.
Accentia employs over 2000 hands and aims to increase the strength to 15,000 in another 2 years.

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Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Rural BPO Revolution Is Beginning

Hubli/Bangalore, January 16, 2008: The tale of India's revolution in Information Technology is now a legend. After covering the cities with its opportunities, things have started moving towards rural areas, thanks to G.V. Bhat the first bunch of outsourced 'off line' jobs have reached the rural youngsters. G.V. Bhat who hails from Sirsi in Uttara Kannada has already gainfully employed 10 youngsters on Business Process Outsourcing (BPO). They have started on data entry jobs and transferring scanned images into Office and word pad documents, which he says was a simple job but the workload is enough to sustain ten youngsters for now.

G. V. Bhat says that it all started as a simple idea. "A group of friends all of them educated to certain level began looking for jobs in Sirsi but there were not any forthcoming and since I had some connections in Bangalore city, my friends started asking me if they can get any jobs in Bangalore. But I knew with the level of skill they had they could not survive in Bangalore for long neither can they afford to stay in the great city with their earning. So I decided to approach the companies in the city of Bangalore and take the back office work to Sirsi".

After running around in the city for a long time Bhat could get positive reply from only one company - Onsoft Technologies of Bangalore which came as such a big encouragement to the rural unemployed youth. What started as a small typing job has now become a multi task job line up. There are now ten machines, a hired 'production centre' and ten rural educated unemployed youth comprising of both men and women working in two shifts. Each of them earn not less than Rs.3500 per month on a 'slot basis' says Bhat.

Speaking to Mangalorean.com, Bhat said this could be one of the ways to stop the youth migrating into big cities in search of jobs. The youth working with him have told him that Rs. 3500 was better in their own towns rather than earning 10,000 in Bangalore or any other big cities. Mr. Bhat who had some insight into the Self Expression & Leadership Program (SELP) found that the educated manpower available in villages and small towns are totally untapped and under utilized. He plans to develop an alternative business model for tapping these resources. According to him, a business venture in small town is very cost effective. "Low cost of infrastructure, availability of skilled manpower, low attrition rate, reasonable compensation packages were some of the advantages of this business opportunity," he asserts.

He claims to have trained 20 persons already in the past three weeks. He plans to extend the soft skills training to at least 100 persons from his hometown. He has booked all the cyber centers in the town to impart this training. He states that his mission is to spread this awareness and opportunity to all the small towns in Karnataka. The revolution has already begun as he has been getting inquiries from groups of youth from towns such as Hassan, Haveri, Badami and some small towns in Mysore district that if he could help them replicating this model in their towns.

He said when he approached various banks sometime back they had found out that this model would not work and it was financially unviable and refused to give him any loan. But a week back when one of the bank managers visited the 'production centre' he was impressed and has given some guidelines to get the bank to finance his project. One of the beneficiaries of this project Pragathi of Sirsi speaking to our correspondent said that the system Mr. Bhat has created has a good potential as the educated unemployed youth could get some work in their own places.

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Saturday, January 12, 2008

Tata Motors’ Argentina plans

NEW DELHI: Tata Motors on Friday said it would invest Rs. 10,000 crore in the next four years to increase its production capacity, particularly of commercial vehicles, for exports.
The auto major is also looking at possibilities of producing its utility vehicles ‘Xenon’ in Argentina in association with its partner Fiat.
Addressing media persons here at the ongoing Auto Expo 2008, Tata Motors Executive Director (Commercial Vehicles) P. M. Telang said the plan was to increase exports of commercial vehicles to countries like Russia, Thailand and Bangladesh.
Tata Motors is also planning to export its one-tonne small vehicle, Ace, having power-steering and air-conditioner to Sri Lanka, Thailand and Russia, targeting 400-500 units every month.
“Our new plant at Dharwad in Karnataka, which will be a mix plant to produce buses in joint venture with Brazil-based Marcopolo, will have production capacity of 25,000 buses annually.
“It is likely to go upstream in the middle of this year,” he said.

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16 cities in State to get FM

New Delhi, Utpal Borpujari, dhns:

The private FM radio explosion will soon embrace the hinterland of India, going into the smallest of towns, and among the beneficiaries will be residents of 16 places in Karnataka.

The Broadcast Engineering Consultants India Ltd (BECIL), a government body tasked with formulating the growth plan of FM radio, has said in a report that the Phase-III of private FM radio expansion should focus on small town India.

Accordingly, BECIL has suggested to the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) that the Phase-III expansion should focus on 237 ‘C’ and ‘D’ category towns in addition to some ‘A’ and ‘B’ category cities.

Expansion process
If the expansion process goes ahead as envisaged after TRAI gives its recommendations that will be formulated after receiving the inputs of all stakeholders to a consultation paper it has issued earlier this week.

People of Karnataka will be one of the major beneficiaries of this expansion as a number of places will be brought under the FM radio map when it is implemented.

According to the list of cities suggested by BECIL where FM stations should be allowed in the State are Belgaum, Bellary, Devangere, Hubli-Dharwad (all four stations each), Bijapur, Bidar, Chitradurga, Chikmagalur, Gadag Betigeri, Hospet, Hassan, Kolar, Raichur, Shimoga, Tumkur and Udupi (all 3 stations each).

MUSIC TO EARS
According to the list of cities suggested by BECIL where FM stations should be allowed in the State are Belgaum, Bellary, Devangere, Hubli-Dharwad (all four stations each), Bijapur, Bidar, Chitradurga, Chikmagalur, Gadag Betigeri, Hospet, Hassan, Kolar, Raichur, Shimoga, Tumkur and Udupi (all 3 stations each).

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Friday, January 11, 2008

Centre sanctions Rs 800 mn to Karnataka for repairing highways

Centre released Rs 800 million to Karnataka for taking up repair works on national highways, reports Economic Times.

Karnataka has sent 23 proposals, seeking Rs 800 million for maintenance of national highways and all of them have been approved.

Union Minister for National Highways K H Muniyappa attributed `overloading` by iron ore lorries for the bad condition of national highways and warned that hefty fines would be slapped against those resorting to it.

To ease traffic congestion on Hubli-Dharwad route, the Centre has decided to approve a outer ring road to connect three national highways from Hubli-Bijapur (NH 218), Ankola-Gutti (NH 234) and Mumbai-Bangalore (NH-4).

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Thursday, January 10, 2008

Talent enhancement school

After launching its soft-skills programme in Mysore, Mcube, the training academy of Metis ERC India, is planning to offer it in Bangalore, Hubli and Mangalore, with an ambitious target of training around 3000 students in one year.

Rajesh Athihalli has no problems with the term "finishing school". But, at a time when organisations with long experience of working in the HR sector, such as his, want to don the role of trainers to equip inexperienced work force with vital professional skills, he feels the term may not adequately reflect the approach many of them are adopting.

"The idea of a Finishing School may represent a divide between the more well-informed who need finishing and those who are not so well-informed who can't be trained," Mr Athihalli elaborated his view. "On the other hand, if you call such training "talent enhancement" that would mean all of them have talent and can extend it to make themselves employable."

Indeed, Mcube, the training academy Mr Athihalli's organisation, Metis ERC India, has started recently, calls itself `Talent Enhancement' school. After launching its soft-skills programme in Mysore, it is planning to offer it in Bangalore, Hubli and Mangalore, with an ambitious target of training around 3000 students in one year.

R&M Associates, the parent organisation of Metis, has been in the field of HRM (Human Resource Management) for the past 30 years. The organisation was one of the first to offer industrial relation services such as resolving lock-outs, helping companies meet with labour law compliances and retirement administration (such as managing PF accounts). This apart, they also have more than a decade of experience in recruitment services and deputing employees in their rolls to work for their clients.

Mr Athihalli, CEO of Metis, says despite training being a part of their comprehensive service, R&M felt the need to add value to it and started Metis as a separate training unit in 2006. "Here, we do training only on soft-skills," Mr Athihalli notes. "We also do consultancy for the companies on, for instance, aligning employees to their vision.

These are usually three to four year projects in which we try and re-focus employees according to the objectives of the company.

"The consultation projects sometimes involve mapping of the whole organisation, identifying talent gaps and designing training programmes to plug them. And Mr Athihalli reiterates Metis has a wider focus as for training employees: "Thanks to our long years of experience, we don't work just with IT or ITES, but across industry."

Mcube, the talent enhancement school, has employability and identifying career path for new recruits as its objectives. It divides its training into life skills -in which students are taught time management and balancing work and life, interview skills - facing job interviews, tests/group discussions, preparing resume etc, and organisational skills - such as work ethic, roles/responsibilities and jelling with the team etc.

"The problem for most freshers who walk into a company is that they have little idea as to how they can manage these things," Mr Athihalli points out. "Especially work-life balance, working as a team and managing time - these are skills that can make or break an individual's career. So, learning them beforehand would help him/her perform better."

On the other hand, studies have suggested that companies could only find very few graduates meeting the criteria for work. Still worse, they have to spend hours testing and interviewing thousands of candidates to identify the few eligible ones. Given this scenario, Mcube sees itself as ideally placed to help both companies and fresh grads.

"We provide a single platform for both employers and students," Mr Athihalli says. "While employers can find the right candidate who can start work from day one, students would get a strong foundation for a successful career and the best company to work with."

For more details contact Metis at: Metis ERC (I) Ltd, L-9, Ist Main, HSR Sector - 6, Bangalore-560034.Ph- 080- 25727457/58, http://www.metisindia.com/

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GEL - Surprising (may be not) development

Dear Friends,

Here is a glaring example of how twin cities could be losing potential opportunities of development. Refer to the news development about GEL (Gokaldas Exports Limited) expressing it's intentions to start their units in Hubli and Mangalore, a couple of days ago. (http://nageeta.blogspot.com/2008/01/gokaldas-plans-manufacturing-units-in.html).

Refer to the latest development of the same business unit already making inroads into Mysore and Tumkur for it's expansion plans. (http://nageeta.blogspot.com/2008/01/apparel-exports-may-fall-short-of.html).

How come there is a sudden 'change of mind' from Hubli and Mangalore to Mysore and Tumkur? Do we have a clue as to how many such potential developments are not even surfacing in the media and are being diverted to different destinations in the IT / ITeS / BT sectors? Well, it is anybody's guess.

Regards,
Nagesh Tavarageri

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Apparel exports may fall short of target

BANGALORE : India’s apparel exports, which were projected to touch $9.5 billion this fiscal, is now likely to fall short by a wide margin with the industry now estimating that this figure would be around $8.2-8.3 billion, a decline of nearly 14%.

“We had been reporting a year-on-year growth of 10% to 15% since 2005 when the quotas ended but this year would be different due to the sudden appreciation of the Indian rupee against the dollar,” said Gokaldas Exports (GEL), India’s largest apparel exporting firm, executive director Rajendra Hinduja.

Many export-dependent sectors like apparel and IT/ITeS have been adversely impacted by a rising rupee. The rupee has gained over 10% in the last six to nine months against the dollar on fears of an imminent recession in the US. According to Clothing Manufacturer’s Association of India (CMAI) president Rahul Mehta there was an urgent need to re-look at the issues facing apparel exporters. “We are in a position where taxes notably state taxes are being exported. This issue needs to be addressed,” he said.

Mr Hinduja said that there was a need to exempt apparel exporters from paying service tax on rented accomodations. “Close to 80% of exporters operate out of rented office space and factories. The Union government can exempt us from paying the service tax on such rentals. Currently, factory rentals are as high as Rs 15 per sqft in places like Bangalore,” he said.

Specifically talking of GEL, Mr Hinduja said the company was looking at expanding into tier-II towns such as Hubli and Mangalore though not immediately.

“We have already begun the process (of going into tier-II towns) by having facilities both in Mysore and Tumkur in Karnataka,” he noted. With the Hyderabad facility becoming operational by April, GEL would be having an annual capacity of 26 million pieces.

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Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Politicians divert urban funds to constituencies

Wednesday January 9 2008 08:07 IST
SHAMSHEER YOUSAF

HUBLI: Conventional wisdom suggests that ‘development’ programmes are meant for the people. But the reality is that such programmes are usually utilised for the ‘development’ of politicians, keeping in mind upcoming elections.

Documents accessed by this website's newspaper show that large funds meant for the development of urban cities and towns have been diverted to constituencies of prominent politicians.

In February 2007, 11 projects for 8 towns and cities from Karnataka were given grants under the Central government-sponsored Urban Infrastructure Development Scheme for Small & Medium Small Towns (UIDSSMT) for a total of Rs 179.75 crore.

The UIDSSMT is a scheme that provides for upgradation of urban infrastructure, with 80 per cent of funds provided by the Centre and the remaining 20 per cent split between the State Government and the Urban Local Body.

Interestingly, the bulk of allocations were cornered by constituencies represented by then CM HD Kumaraswamy (Ramnagaram), Minister of Municipal Administration Alangur Srinivas (Kolar), Deputy CM BS Yeddyurappa (Shikaripur) and former PM HD Deve Gowda (HoleNarasipur).

For instance, take the case of Kumaraswamy's constituency Ramanagar. According to a 2001 census, the city has a population of less than 80,000 and is just a City Municipal Council. Yet it had 2 projects approved for Rs 32 crore, which includes improvement of roads and a drinking water supply project.

Even more perplexing is the case of Hole Narasipur, a TMC which has a population of just 27,000. It received approval for 4 projects of Rs 32.18 crore, which includes improvement of roads, a drinking water supply project, car parking facility and construction of storm water drains.

Hole Narasipur is incidentally where Deve Gowda started his political career, and from where he was elected to the Assembly for several years. The largest chunk of allocation was bagged by Kolar, where former minister of Municipal Administration Alangur Srinivas hails from.

An ambitious drinking water supply project for 3 towns will cost the exchequer a whopping Rs 79.92 crore. Yeddyurappa was also not left behind with a grant of Rs 13.17 crore for a drinking water supply project to his constituency Shikaripur, a town with a population of 32,000.

Inevitably larger towns and cities, which were the target of this scheme, have been left high and dry. The second largest city in Karnataka, Hubli- Dharwad, with a population of nearly 10-20 times of the cities mentioned above, has received only Rs 14 crore so far for two projects.

Other CMCs such as Mangalore, Belgaum, Gulbarga, Bellary, Hospet, Shimoga and Bijapur with populations much larger have been completely left out. The allocations are in fact in direct contravention to the spirit of the guidelines issued for the UIDSSMT scheme.

The guidelines note ‘Allocation of funds among states will be on the basis of the state's urban population to total urban population in the country. States may allocate these funds to town/cities based on a similar formula’.

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Gokaldas plans manufacturing units in Hubli, Mangalore

Bangalore Jan 9: Apparel exports major, Gokaldas Exports, is planning to set up manufacturing units at Hubli and Mangalore in Karnataka with a combined production capacity of four million garments a year.

The initiative was part of the Bangalore-based company's move to tap tier-II cities where the labour and rental costs were less, Rajendra J Hinduja, Executive Director (Finance), Gokaldas Exports said here.

"Today, rentals in Bangalore are sky-high. It's Rs 15 per square feet (rent per month) for industrial sheds. Far too expensive. It should have been Rs 7-8 per square feet to sustain costs," he said.

The proposed Hubli and Mangalore units would each have a production capacity of two million garments a year. The company's annual total production capacity is 24 million garments.
Hinduja said its manufacturing facility at Hyderabad would be commissioned in April.

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Sunday, January 06, 2008

Collection of songs

Dear Friends,

For those music lovers, here is presented a collection of my favourite music. Hopefully the collection gets you interested.

Shivaranjani - http://saregapadasa.blogspot.com/

Enjoy.

Regards,
Nagesh Tavarageri

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Saturday, January 05, 2008

E-portal will pressure cops: Kiran Bedi

NEW DELHI: For some people, 24 hours isn't enough. Celebrated police officer Kiran Bedi, in fact, is trying to pack in 48 hours in a day, post her voluntary retirement on December 24. That was after she was bypassed for post of Delhi Police Commissioner. This first woman IPS officer who has had a 38-year association with the force says, "I don't see any woman making it to the top for sometime at least."

Without mincing words, she explains why she left. "Despite introspection within the force, there are many reports which are simply gathering dust. Why do you think I left? I was not willing to write more reports where other valuable ones already existed. I also left because I respected and valued my time."

She's been a trailblazer all her life - Ramon Magsaysay award, Asian tennis champion, author, doctorate in the field of drug abuse and domestic violence....She was even voted 5th most admired Indian and one of 15 Indian icons of 2006 in a poll conducted by a national magazine.

So what is Bedi doing post retirement? "At the moment, I'm looking for a day to have 48 hours," she says emphatically. Her first initiative as a civilian has been to continue work on police reforms. In this context, she launched an e-portal on January 3, www.saferindia.com , where complainants who are refused help in police stations, can write in. This is a project of her NGO, 'India Vision Foundation'.

Bedi says, "Ninety-six percent of crimes aren't registered. Let the government and people know that a crime can now be registered through this national portal. It'll act as a pressure group on the police." The portal will forward unattended/unacknowledged complaints to respective state police headquarters. "The email complaint will be valid proof of receipt which the police cannot ignore or deny."

This initiative comes just days after two girls were molested in Mumbai on New Year's eve. Initially, Bedi will be helped by retired police officers, civil servants and law students. Later, she plans to take recourse to RTI, while asking the media to do its bit. "If the media joins us in this drive, we can turn the wheel around in one year."

She has used her personal savings for this endeavour, but admits her uniform gave her the position to mobilise, inspire and raise support for this social service. "I can't give a Rs 1 lakh advertisement in papers, but I can generate awareness and build support."

For a person who has lived by her convictions, Bedi believes policing has the 'power to correct', the 'power to do' and the 'power to get things done'. Little wonder then that her concept of policing was always social service, social justice and not power. "It never was about power for me. I was merely a citizen in uniform. For me, prevention of crime was always the priority. I've always encouraged everyone around me to go beyond their family and reach out to the larger society."

Every Saturday, Sunday and other holidays went into social work, she says. "Which is why I have continued to nurture it even today. It has to come from within you." So be it prison reforms, crime, law and order or drug abuse treatment centres, Bedi continued to pursue her passion. "I've also been writing a lot. Some of my seniors did not want me to write, but I continued and did not give up my role as a citizen in uniform."

Her latest initiative is as a judge for the Lead India campaign. "India has always given social leaders who never got print space as compared to political leaders. What Lead India is doing is identifying genuine, worthwhile social leaders and giving them visibility."

meenakshi.sinha@timesgroup.com

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Friday, January 04, 2008

Centre moots B'lore, Chennai corridor

From Ajith Athrady, DH News Service, New Delhi:

Encouraged by enthusiastic response to the Mumbai-Delhi industrial corridor project, the Centre is actively pursuing a proposal to develop a Bangalore-Chennai industrial corridor.

A decision could come next month when Union Finance Minister P Chidambaram presents his budget in Parliament.

The department of industrial policy and promotion (DIPP) in the ministry of commerce and industries has convened a meeting of Karnataka and Tamil Nadu government officials here on Monday for consultations on the new proposal.

The two states may be asked to come up with their respective feasibility reports on the proposed corridor and identify sources of funding for developing it, said a senior ministry official. According to a tentative plan of the Centre, the southern industrial corridor will come up between Chennai-Sriperumbudur-Ranipet-Hosur-Bangalore.

However, indications are that Karnataka may seek extension of the proposed corridor from Chennai to Mumbai, passing through Bangalore, Davanagere and Hubli-Dharward. The Karnataka government is apparently of the view that merely to have a corridor between Chennai and Bangalore would not help the state significantly since the Bangalore-Hosur section is already witnessing rapid industrial expansion, said sources.

Various industrial bodies have been pushing for the Chennai-Bangalore corridor for many years.

MK’s support

A few months ago, Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M Karunanidhi came out in support of the proposal and wrote to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh asking him to take up implementation of the proposal. The DIPP believes that an industrial corridor between Chennai and Bangalore would be easy to develop as the areas that come under this have several key advantages in terms of availability of industries, skilled manpower and other basic infrastructure facilities.

Also, international airports in Chennai and Bangalore and two major sea ports at Chennai and Ennore would further contribute to the growth of this corridor, said the official.

While Bangalore has the strength in information technology, Chennai’s advantage lies in automobile technology, manufacturing and electronics. The two complement each other, the official said, adding that attracting an investment of at least $25 billion over the next five years to develop the corridor would not be a problem.

Salient features
*Where to where: Chennai-Sriperumbudur-Ranipet-Hosur-Bangalore
*Potential for investment of at least $25 billion
*Karnataka would like corridor from Chennai to Mumbai, passing through Bangalore, Davangere and Hubli-Dharward
*Pluses: Skilled manpower and infrastructure facilities
*Bangalore’s strength is in IT, Chennai’s edge lies in automobile tech, manufacturing and electronics

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Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Now, your opinion can help improve Centre-State ties

The State governments often complain that Central government irrespective of the political parties in power adopt "double standards" in sanctioning aids and projects depending on the party holding power in the States concerned.

A common accusation is that Union government always show “favour” to those states either ruled by the same political party which is in power at the Centre or those ruled by their “friends in politics” and ignore the states being ruled by its political opponents.

Do you feel the time has come to remove such “discrimination or favouritism” based on political differences in the process of development?

Here is an opportunity for you to express your opinion to make an attempt to end politicisation of the relationship between Centre and States, mainly in the key areas of economy, financial aids, sharing of resources, sanctioning of projects, etc.

Spare a few minutes to pen down the nature of relationship you expect between your State and the Centre against the changing economic and political scenario of the country. You can mail your suggestions to the Commission on Centre State Relations, New Delhi, headed by Justice Madan Mohan Punchhi, former chief justice of India.

The Punchhi Commission, constituted in April 2007, has now invited views and suggestions from public (individuals, organisations, institutions and associations, etc) on various issues involved.

Punchhi Commission has been created 24 years after a similar commission called Sarkaria Commission was set up in 1983. Sarkaria Commission had given its report in 1988.

Even though all state governments too are expected submit their views on this issue to the Commission, Karnataka is likely to do it only after the installation of a popular government after elections, pointed out a senior officer. The Commission has not set any deadline for receiving suggestions.

Though the Punchhi Commission has been given a free hand to make its suggestions, following terms and references on certain crucial issues has been set by the Centre for the Commission to make its detailed study and recommendations.

*Functions and responsibilities in all spheres including, legislative, administrative relations, role of governors, emergency provisions, financial, economic and social planning, panchayat raj, sharing of resources, including river water, etc.

*Role, responsibility and jurisdiction of Centre-State during major and prolonged outbreak of communal or caste violence or any other social conflict; in planning and implementation of mega projects like inter-linking of rivers; promoting the concept of independent planning and budgeting at the district-level; linking Central assistance of various kinds with the performance of states; need for freeing inter-state trade in order to establish a unified and integrated domestic market, etc
*Suo motu powers.

Feasibility
Meanwhile, one of the Centre’s references to the Commission is to examine the feasibility of a supporting legislation under Article 355 of the Constitution for the purpose of suo motu deployment of forces in the states as and when the situation demands, which is already being debated by political parties.

Centre has also asked the Commission to look into the need for setting up a Central Law Enforcement Agency empowered to take up suo motu investigation of crimes having inter-state and international ramifications with serious.

Have YOUR SAY
Send your suggestions by post to the Secretary, Commission on Centre-State Relations, Vigyan Bhavan Annexe, New Delhi-110011. Email: commcentrestate@nic.in

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Super-speciality hospital to be set up at Sattur

It will be set up on SDM Hospital premises

DHARWAD: Sri Dharmasthala Manjunatheshwar (SDM) College of Medical Sciences and Hospital will soon have a super speciality hospital on its premises at Sattur near Dharwad.

Medical director of the hospital Dr. Niranjanakumar told presspersons here on Tuesday that the super speciality hospital would be set up in a separate block on the same premises.

The new hospital would have departments such as plastic surgery, urology, cardiac surgery, neuro-surgery and paediatrics, he said.

Dr. Niranjanakumar said the first batch of students from the college would be passing out next year, and consequently the college would be getting permanent affiliation. The college had plans to apply for permission from the Medical Council of India to start postgraduate courses in medicine, he said.

New complex

Dr. Niranjanakumar said a new building for the SDM Rural Health Training Centre had been constructed at Yadawad in Dharwad taluk at a cost of Rs. 1.5 crore. Shivayogi Swamiji of Murugha Math, Dharwad, would inaugurate it on Thursday and Dharmadhikari of Dharmasthala would preside over the inaugural function, he added.

He said the training centre would benefit the residents of 26 villages in the surrounding area. A chief medical officer, four doctors, a woman doctor and a few paramedical staff would be available at the centre and the services of an ambulance would be available round-the-clock, he said.

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Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Hindustani music centre at Hubli

Tuesday January 1 2008 07:39 IST
EXPRESS NEWS SERVICE

HUBLI: The proposed Hindustani Music Centre coming up at Unkal here is likely to be modelled on Kolkata-based Indian Tobacco Company (ITC)'s Music Research Centre.The proposed centre is considered to be a gift for Hindustani vocalist Dr Gangubai Hangal by the State Government to ensure the prevalence of the rich legacy of Hindustani music in the state.

Recognising the contribution of Dr Hangal to Hindustani music, the previous coalition government had earmarked Rs 5 crore in budget to set up a Hindustani music centre at Unkal village.The then deputy chief minister B S Yeddyurappa had laid the foundation stone in the centre of 5 acres of land sanctioned for the purpose on June 30, 2007.

Dharwad Deputy Commissioner M S Sriikar submitted a proposal to the State Government seeking approval to set up the centre here on the lines of ITC Centre.The advisory committee involving musicians and laureates constituted to chalk out the modalities for the centre is also learnt to have unanimously resolved to consider ITC centre as a model institute for the proposed Hubli Hindustani music centre.Hindustani Music Centre, Mysore, Music Department of Pune University and ITC Music Research Centre, Kolkota, were the options before the advisory committee.

Music Department of Pune University is training students for certificate and degree courses in music and the Hindustani Music Centre in Mysore did not have the Gurukul system of learning the music.The ITC Centre is imparting music to students through Gurukul system. It was the wish of Gangubai to train budding talents under the Gurukul system, hence the advisory committee has decided to emulate the ITC Centre." The activities towards setting up the Centre are still in the initial stage. We invite tenders for preparing the blueprint of building and construction work only after getting approval for ITC Centre model by the government", said M S Srikar.

The education department will decide the curriculum for the centre and there are possibilities of setting up a trust to run the centre as wished for by Gangubai.On the day of foundation stone-laying ceremony, Gangubai had wished to see the full-fledged centre in one year, but it seems that it may take a little more time to have a state-of--art music centre at Unkal.

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North Karnataka: Still living on hope

Big plans and huge promises for North Karnataka marked the year that just went by. But, very little was done to implement them. Srinivas Sirnoorkar takes stock of the situation.

“No party and leader can afford to play politics by ignoring the interests of North Karnataka. If anyone does, they will be doing so at their own peril,” was the refrain of the then chief minister H D Kumaraswamy during one of his trips to Gulbarga. For once, he was speaking some truth. It was also an acknowledgement of increasing assertive and bargaining power of the awakened people of North Karnataka in general and Hyderabad-Karnataka - which continues to be one of the most backward regions of India - in particular.

A number of agitations that have been going on for the last several years in the northern parts of the State have at least resulted in registering their lung power, forcing the powers-that-be to listen to them. The prolonged and sustained agitations for the establishment of High Court benches in Gulbarga and Hubli-Dharwad, and the stir demanding a separate statehood for the Hyderabad-Karnataka region appear to have made some impact in the corridors of power. However, dividends continue to evade as Northern Karnataka is yet to carve a long path to achieve desired growth and development.

The year 2007 which saw unprecedented political upheaval did not make a significant dent vis-a-vis the development of North Karnataka. The only consolation was the formal acceptance of the D M Nanjundappa Committee report on regional imbalance and incorporation of some of its aspects in the policy document for the year 2007-08 by the JD(S)-BJP coalition government.

The Nanjundappa Committee report, after gathering dust for years in the planning cupboards, was brought to light in the year with the government earmarking Rs 1,571 crore for its implementation. There is a wrong notion that the Nanjundappa Committee report benefits only North Karnataka. The report addresses the regional imbalance of the State in totality and in the process the natural beneficiary is North Karnataka. Although monetary allocations have been made, priorities of thrust areas for growth and development have not been fixed.

The Kalasa Banduri Nala project, aimed at quenching the thirst of Hubli-Dharwad twin cities, created a lot of noise in the year. The hopes of the people were sought to be revived by performing bhoomi pooja. It was a shortlived glory. The project aims to link Kalasa and Banduri nalas, tributaries of Mahadayi river, to Ghataprabha, for providing drinking water to the twin cities besides some other towns remain in the wilderness.

With a hostile Central Government playing the Goa card, which has taken objection to the diversion proposal of the downstream State, is yet to see light at the other end of the tunnel. The lack of serious political pursuance on the part of Karnataka to prevail upon the Centre to give its final clearance has cost the project dearly. The time overrun, needless to say, will have abnormal cost overrun.

Though the Kumaraswamy Government took a bold decision to hold the legislature session in Belgaum, it conveniently neglected Gulbarga for the same purpose. Although the government had issued an order to explore the possibilities of holding sessions in Belgaum and Gulbarga, the designated committee never visited Gulbarga.

The government made yet another abortive attempt to divide the biggest districts - Gulbarga and Belgaum for creating two more new districts, Yadgir or Shahapur out of Gulbarga, and Gokak or Chikkodi out of Belgaum. Kumaraswamy managed to carve out the two new districts of Ramanagara and Chikballapur out of Bangalore Rural and Kolar respectively. He however chose to bury the proposals of the new districts of North Karnataka. The reorganisation of the two northern districts for efficient administration and for better public convenience continues to remain elusive.

To boost tourism, the State has created three tourist circuits and there is not even a mention of Hyderabad-Karnataka region in them. The tourist potential of Gulbarga, Bidar, Raichur and Koppal has remained unexploited. The woeful infrastructure connectivity to the historical sites of the region is a major handicap.

The proposal to set up a development authority for Sannati, an ancient Buddhist monument on the banks of river Bhima in Chittapur taluk is yet to come out of the red tape.The proposal is to develop Sannati as an international Buddhist centre with scope for study and research. Sannati is a place which gave a decisive turn to the history of Karnataka with the discovery of Buddhist settlements of pre-Satavahana period. There is not even a motorable road to the historically significant place, let alone other infrastructure facilities.

After dilly-dallying for decades, the Gulbarga airport appears to be taking some shape with the State Government selecting the agency for the development of the first ever civilian airport of Hyderabad-Karnataka region. If all goes well, the airport may become a reality in a couple of years.

Gulbarga and Raichur are the two agriculture-intensive districts of the State. While Gulbarga is served by the UKP, Bennithora, Amarja and Gandorinala irrigation projects, Raichur is benefited by both Tungabhadra and UKP. The Government had promised to open an university of agriculture sciences at Raichur. It appears Raichur has to wait for it for long.

One of the most heartening features of the year was the opening of two new government medical colleges at Bidar and Raichur. Though the initiative was taken by the Dharam Singh Government, its successor had to continue it by pumping the required funds. The two medical colleges have helped poor students of the region to pursue their medical career.

Despite the opening of a separate commissionerate for primary and secondary education in Gulbarga to cater to the needs of seven North East districts of the State, the results are not encouraging. Gulbarga still has the highest number of dropouts and highest number of children out of school.

The Karnataka Togari Mandali (Tur Board) based in Gulbarga has become one more run of the mill establishments not being able to do justice to tur growers. Its only function appears to be marginal market intervention to stabilise tur prices. The Board is expected to take up all other allied activities to improve tur productivity and production by joining hands with other institutions. The Board is yet to make its presence felt.

On the rail front, there appears to be no respite for the miseries of people. The 115-km-long Gulbarga-Bidar new railway line has been languishing for the last 10 years. It has been taken up on a 50 per cent cost sharing basis with the State Government. The Centre has made an outlay of Rs 20 cr during the year 2007-08 but the State has not released sufficient funds out of its share. This is an ambitious project as it would reduce the journey period between Bangalore and Delhi by about four hours.

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