Budget Bonanza for Mysuru
Abracadabra By K. B. Ganapathy, Columns, Top Stories

Budget Bonanza for Mysuru

July 8, 2023

Chamundi Hill Development Authority on the anvil

In the late 1970, D. Devaraj Urs, the then Chief Minister who brought in the MOST revolutionary land reform, nationalised buses and named Mysuru State as Karnataka, was known for his indifference to the votes of the educated and the rich. And he openly declared so in his public meetings. As a journalist I had covered a number of his meetings and engagements.

Hence I know his idea of playing politics. Politically savvy, he knew that a large number of educated and the rich shy away from going to the voting booth. So he projected an image of a pro-poor Chief Minister. Today we see Siddharamaiah following the pro-poor policy of D. Devaraj Urs and garnering votes.

However, Devaraj Urs, from Hunsur, Mysuru District, was often asked why he was not doing enough for Hunsur and Mysuru. His answer was rather Machiavellian: “My dear man, I am not the Chief Minister for Hunsur or Mysuru District. I am the Chief Minister for Karnataka.” That said there was no legacy for we Mysureans to remember him whereas his protege R. Gundu Rao gave us the imposing Kalamandira. Let it be.

When Siddharamaiah became the Chief Minister for the second time this year, 2023, I wrote in this column under the title “Wake up Mysuru: Ask Siddharamaiah to leave behind a legacy for Mysuru.” Here I dealt with the fate of Lalitha Mahal Palace Hotel etc., and endorsed his selection of the Senior IAS Officer N. Jayaram as his Personal Secretary, one who would ably assist and guide him. Now looking at the bonanza he has given to Mysuru, like gifts from the generous Santa Claus, I am sure Siddharamaiah would deliver. This is possible because we have a stable Government and an experienced, committed leadership.

It is perceived by many political pundits, specially those pro-BJP, that the success of Congress in this 2023 election was due to the controversial, difficult-to-fulfill five promises and guarantees — 1. ‘Gruha Jyothi’ 2. ‘Gruha Lakshmi’ 3. ‘Shakthi’ 4. ‘Anna Bhagya and 5. ‘Yuva Nidhi’ and not for its ideology or the strong double-engine leadership of Siddharamaiah and D.K. Shivakumar. It is a wrong perception.

The BJP had either too many leaders, too many loose tongues and worse, all working at cross-purposes, being presumptuous that in any case they will win. After all, Modi and Amit Shah had campaigned. Over-confidence is what done them in. It was like phantom pregnancy. False pregnancy. And so it was.

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Be that as it may, yesterday Chief Minister Siddharamaiah presented his 14th State budget. Lucky man. It seems some of his luck is rubbed off on our city this time.

During the rule of BJP Government, some politicians and senior citizens of Mysuru, your’s truly included, got together, discussed, debated and deliberated on the question of saving the Chamundi Hill which has been vandalised and devastated both by man and nature. While man began to build houses and commercial structures, nature, in its fury, caused landslides in many places so much so the road from the View-Point junction to the Nandi monolith was closed for vehicles and the work is still going on. The Hill faced an existential threat due to deforestation and ecological degradation. It needed protection both from avaricious man and natural calamities.

To save the Hill from imminent deterioration and destruction of forest cover was the objective. Therefore, a group of senior citizens and politicians met a couple of times and discussed the ways and means to save the iconic sacred Hill. Among them were Mysuru-Kodagu MP Pratap Simha; Chamundeshwari Constituency MLA G.T. Devegowda; Advocate Govinda; Environmentalist U.N. Ravikumar; K.R. Constituency former MLA M.K. Somashekar; Parisara Balaga Founder-Member Parashuram Gowda; Maj. Gen. (retd.) S.G. Vombatkere; former MLC D. Madegowda;  former Chairman of Mysore Paints and Varnish Limited (MPVL) R. Raghu Kautilya and Star of  Mysore & Mysuru Mithra Editor M. Govinde Gowda.

We decided that the Hill should remain only as a pilgrim centre and not as a tourist centre with shops and hotels. Our Save Chamundi Hill group got a Bill drafted, vetted it over three meetings and submitted it to the then Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai on Oct. 11, 2022. But nothing happened. We did not even receive an acknowledgement from the CM’s Office. Apparently a paralysed Government.

Now good-times seem to have come for the Hill. Siddharamaiah in his yesterday’s Budget speech has said that his Government would set up a Chamundi Hill Development Authority for protecting and regulating the development of the Hill. It is as good as saying a Bill on the lines we had suggested would be in place. Thank you Chief Minister.

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Apart from this important announcement, Siddharamaiah had also announced many major projects for Mysuru which have already appeared in today’s newspapers. He must have likewise announced projects for every district, 31 of them. The question is will he  be able to provide required money for all these Budget Proposals? It should not happen like it is happening with the bombastic Five Guarantees (ಉಚಿತ ಖಚಿತ ನಿಶ್ಚಿತ)!

Here I would like to remind the new Government about two major problems Mysuru is facing and needs Government’s immediate attention.

One is about the Lalitha Mahal Palace Hotel. It must be handed over to any Indian or foreign multinational Hotel Group like Taj, ITC or Oberoi and such. Otherwise the building will collapse and with it an iconic landmark of city gone.

Two, the Village-Agricultural Market on MG Road. For years the poor villagers bring their agricultural produce like vegetables and fruits here to this open area by the road and block the road for a stretch, in the morning and evening causing traffic log-jam. The place is also dirty, most unhygienic with loose top soil and slush without overhead shelter for protection from rain or summer heat. No basic facility either. If the Government is farmer-friendly, please help them. I have already mentioned what the Government can do to resolve the prevailing legal issues connected with this land. [See below]

Since law of the land provides for acquiring private land if required for a public purpose, the best way to solve this problem, now stuck in a Law Court, is to settle the case by compromise or by requesting the Court for urgent hearing in the public interest. If the private party (who bought this land in IT Department auction) wins the case, the Government must acquire this land by paying compensation as per law.

Hope this Government and the District Administration would deal with these two major concerns of our city.

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