BENGALURU: A gamut of issues were spelt out by prominent voices from various fields for inclusion in a constructive vision document for Karnataka’s growth and development at the ‘Vision 2025 Conclave’ organised by The New Indian Express in the city on Monday. The ideas presented by five experts touched upon diverse issues which included steps needed to avert farmer suicides, importance of introducing Kannada in schools in the state, better connectivity and infrastructure for North Karnataka, improvement in rail and airport infrastructure for the state and the need to decongest traffic in Bengaluru.
The evening began with a powerful talk by Professor R Venkata Rao, Vice-Chancellor, National Law School of India University (NLSIU), on the importance of legal issues. “A judicious juxtaposition of Law and Science and Technology should be the vision of Vision 2025,” he said. Rao made a strong plea for translating the Preamble of the Constitution in the vernacular language and ensuring school students memorise it.
Kishore Alva, joint president of Adani Udupi Power Plant, made a strong plea for more ease of doing business in Karnataka. “A single window agency clearing system is vital. It must interact with other agencies and get approvals for investors,” he said. He also called for empowering the Single Window Clearance Committee -- that deals with projects with investments ranging between `15 crore and `100 crore -- and the State High Level Clearance Committee, which takes care of projects costing beyond `100 crore.
Calling for an Energy Security state, Alva called for revamping the Raichur Thermal Power Plant. “Vision 2025 needs to focus on 10 major development plans for Bengaluru other than five development plans for the other 29 districts,” he added.Karnataka Agricultural Price Commission chairman T N Prakash Kammardi dwelt on the dichotomy between the sky-rocketing prices of farm produce and the poor returns for farmers. “Sixty percent of the commodities in Karnataka are sold below the Minimum Support Price. When a litre water bottle meant to be sold at `15 MRP is sold for a higher price, there is the Consumer Protection Act for it. For tomato, rice or dal, it is not the same,” he pointed out.
Kammardi called for a national policy for pulses and onions. “Seventy per cent of small and marginalised farmers in the state fall in the Below Poverty Line category,” he said.Dr Chandan Gowda of Azim Premji University, in his talk on ‘Social empowerment’, lauded the social welfare schemes of the Karnataka government, which, he said are unnecessarily criticised. “The milk distribution and the free textbook distribution at schools are fantastic schemes,” Gowda said. Despite several incentives for students, there is a high drop-out rate in government schools, especially among dalits and tribal groups, he said. He lauded the state government for making the study of Kannada language compulsory in schools and called for stricter law enforcement so that citizens feel a sense of security.
G Raghuram, director, Indian Institute of Management-Bengaluru (IIM-B), pointed out that the per capita vehicular ratio in the city is the highest in India. On how the city’s traffic woes can be solved, he said, “The population is over one crore and we have 67.22 lakh vehicles, including 13.01 lakh cars. Our per capita vehicle stands at 0.56 while New Delhi stands at 0.47 and Mumbai stands at 0.12.”
The highest use of public transport is in Mumbai. Calling for much better integration between the Railways and Metro, Raghuram said the city’s planning is only radial while we need a loop or ring in planning. “Delhi is already working on the second ring. This aspect has to be given importance in Vision 2025.” The last-mile connectivity is only through roads, he added.
Making a strong pitch for developing aviation, Raghuram said the airports at Hubballi and Belagavi have poor patronage. Better rail connectivity from different parts of the state with North Karnataka is crucial with Kalaburagi as a rail terminus. Referring to the 40 million tonnes of cargo handled at the New Mangaluru Port, Raghuram called for a massive scaling-up of operations here.