Karnataka Chief Minister B S Yediyurappa has approved and inaugurated a slew of development projects, especially in healthcare, irrigation, and construction, amid increasing speculation of leadership change in the state. A chunk of of these projects, which he flagged off on July 24, was allocated to his home district Shivamogga.
While some of the projects he had inaugurated were announced in the budget speech for the financial year, his rivals questioned Karnataka CM’s urgency to approve these projects.
A 400m ropeway project costing ₹164 crore at Jog Falls, the second-highest waterfall in India located in Shivamogga; setting up of a cancer centre at Shivamogga Institute of Medical Sciences at a cost of ₹100 crore, much on the lines of the Kidwai Institute in Bangalore; a new airport terminal costing over ₹100 crore, an agriculture university building and lift irrigation projects to provide water to tanks in his hometown Shikaripura, are some of the projects that were hurriedly cleared.
Former Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy alleged that the state government approved ₹12,000 crore worth of works in the Water Resources Department alone.
“The government has approved works worth ₹12,000 crore in a hurry. This is amid speculation that the CM will resign in a couple of days. What is the reason for the rush? This is nothing but a money-making exercise,” said Kumaraswamy.
Kumaraswamy further questioned the government about its plans for irrigation works in north Karnataka, which he feels has been ignored. While the officials refused to comment saying some of the projects had budgetary allocation and were not being taken up in a hurry.
For instance, the budget speech had spoken about the establishment of a new research institute at the Veterinary College in Shivamogga, upgrading the Ayurvedic College in the district into an Ayush University, all of which was meant to encourage ayurvedic medicines usage in veterinary science.
But since the start of this year, the CM seems to be more sympathetic towards his home district and to the Lingayat community’s demands.
In March, a day after muted birthday celebrations in Bengaluru amid the COVID crisis, the CM reached his home district Shivamogga and launched the ₹105-crore Muguru lift irrigation project. The project was aimed at solving the drinking water crisis in the region.
Also, in January, Yediyurappa, who’s seen as a tall leader among Lingayat politicians, had also announced yet another big project, the Anubhava Mantapa project, also linked to Basaveshwara—in Basavakalyana, in Bidar district.
Besides, the state cabinet had last month given approval to install a statue of the 12th century social reformer Jagajyoti Basaveshwara, who founded the Lingayat movement, at Vidhana Soudha.
On July 24, he also unveiled the bust of Basavanna outside the Gandhi Pak in Shivamogga. The Lambeth Basaveshwara Foundation, a UK-based non-profit organisation had donated the bust in 2017 to Shivamogga city corporation. However, due to administrative reasons, it was not installed until now.
Even as Lingayat sect seers from religious institutions are rallying behind the CM, the projects assume significance in the wake of news about leadership change in BJP, as Yediyurappa completes two years in power on July 26.
For the chief minister who got voted to the Assembly from Shikaripura, Shivamogga, nearly nine times since 1983, and his son who is an MP from the region for four consecutive times since 1999, the development projects are a way to thank his people, before he bids adieu to his political career, his party MLAs in Shivamogga said.