BANGALORE: Bowing to pressure from MLAs in both the ruling Congress and the opposition BJP, the state government has decided to set in motion the process for carving out 43 new taluks.
The previous BJP government had promised the formation of new taluks, which was kept in cold storage after the Siddaramaiah government took over.
The chief minister, who was delaying a decision on the issue earlier, has reportedly given the go-ahead for preparations to announce the new taluks, official sources said.Owing to the huge financial burden, the goverment was going slow on the proposal, despite pressure from within the party. According to official sources, the Revenue Department recently sought the opinion of the Finance Department to take a final call on the issue.
Revenue Minister V Srinivasa Prasad told Express, “We never said the government has no plans to announce new taluks.” He said the government will have to spend a minimum of `100 crore for every new taluk.
Maintaining that the previous BJP government had made the announcement ahead of the elections to derive political mileage, he said the outgoing government had not earmarked any funds to implement it.
Disclosing that the state may need about `4,500 crore to carve out the new taluks, he said, “We have inherited a financial burden of about `2,500 crore from the previous government due to co-operative loan waiver, putting financial constraints on announcing new taluks.”
The new government’s sops, including Anna Bhagya, Ksheera Bhagya, loan waiver for SC/ST, minority and OBC groups and additional subsidy for milk producers, have made things further difficult, he said.
“All these schemes have put a financial strain to the tune of over `7,500 crore,” Prasad added.
Stating that the government has not abandoned the idea of new taluks, he said that among the proposed 43 taluks 28 are those represented by Congress MLAs and they are exerting pressure to announce it as early as possible.
“The charges of politicising the issue is baseless,” he said. Opposition leader in the Assembly Jagadish Shettar said about 90 per cent of the new taluks proposed by the previous government were recommended by one or the other committee. “About 36 taluks are from northern Karnataka region,” he said. Shettar alleged that the indifferent attitude of the leaders of Old Mysore region towards northern Karnataka is causing the inordinate delay in announcing the new taluks. No genuine demands of the people of northern Karnataka region were fulfilled without struggles, he said and added, “If need be, we would generate a strong public opinion on the issue to bring pressure on the state government.”