Karnataka Cabinet approves mining in KGF, entrusts property tax, water bill collection to SHGs

The Karnataka Cabinet meeting also chose to focus on social justice and shoring up finances, possibly to pay for its guarantees.

BySouth First Desk

Published Jun 20, 2024 | 7:14 PM Updated Jun 20, 2024 | 7:14 PM

Chief Minister Siddaramaiah chaired the Cabinet meeting at Vidhana Soudha on 10 August. (Supplied)

A meeting of the Karnataka Cabinet that was held under the headship of Chief Minister Siddaramaiah at the Vidhan Soudha in Bengaluru on Thursday, 20 June, focussed on a wide array of matters that needed attention.

However, what emerged out of it all was that on one hand, the Congress government was looking to boost its position with infrastructure and social justice.

On the other hand, politics and other concerns — including augmenting revenue collection — were also on the minds of the ministers.

For one, it decided to collect the pending water and property tax bills for all women’s self-help groups (SHGs) in urban local bodies across the state.

This move appeared to be the latest effort by the government to shore up its finances, which are reportedly being strained by the guarantees it has implemented since coming to power last year.

Also Read: BJP holds state-wide protest in Karnataka over hike in petrol and diesel prices

Infrastructure

On the infrastructure front, the Cabinet gave administrative approval for the development of 2,710 km of road at a cost of ₹5,190 crore in rural areas.

It also okayed a number of new and continuing schemes in the educational sector.

Under the aegis of the Department of Higher Education, six universities — Bangalore, Mangalore, Kalaburagi, Rani Chennamma, and Kuvempu University — are to be granted ₹279.77 crore to upgrade their infrastructure.

Of the total grants, given under the PM-USHA scheme, the Centre’s share stands at ₹111.91 crore and the state share is ₹167 crore.

Administrative approval has been accorded for the construction of a new building on the premises of the KR Hospital in Mysuru at a cost of ₹75 crore.

The Cabinet also approved the continuation of free electricity and water supply to government schools and colleges at a cost of ₹29.19 crore.

The scheme would continue to benefit the existing 48,829 government schools and 1,234 PU colleges.

The Cabinet also okayed Rotary International conducting programmes for the personality development of students in residential schools at a cost of ₹2.37 crore.

It also revised the estimate for the upgradation of the infrastructure of the Government Engineering College in Hassan to ₹59.57 crore from the previous estimate of ₹81 crore.

The Cabinet also approved the revised estimate of ₹137.70 crore for the housing development project taken by the Belagavi Development Authority at Kanabaragi in Belagavi. The earlier estimate was ₹127.71 crore.

Also Read: Karnataka aims for 15-16% annual industrial growth, says Siddaramaiah

Politics and social justice

The Karnataka Cabinet, in its meeting on Thursday, also gave its nod to keep the photo of the father of the Constitution, Dr BR Ambedkar, along with Mahatma Gandhi during the celebration of national festivals.

These include 15 August (Independence Day), 26 January (Republic Day), and 26 November (Constitution Day).

At the national level, Congress has been steadfast in projecting the icon values of both Ambedkar and Gandhi, even as BJP appears to be willing to undermine them.

For example, statues of Gandhi, Ambedkar, and Chhatrapati Shivaji, among others, were on 6 June relocated within the Parliament premises as part of a landscaping exercise.

Congress has been very vocal about the move. Its latest action on the matter was Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge writing to the Lok Sabha Speaker and the Rajya Sabha chairman over the shifting of the statues and demanding that they be restored to their original places.

Back in Karnataka, the Cabinet okayed the Human Rights Directorate’s 33 units to be upgraded as special police stations. The purpose is to reduce the workload of police stations.

An in-principle approval is said to have been given to fill 450 posts across these special police stations.

These special units are expected to mainly deal with cases related to the SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act. These are being set up to apparently increase the quality of investigation.

Sources in the Cabinet said among the total cases registered under the Atrocities Act, 95 percent end in acquittal.

They added that such cases also frequently see the investigation not being completed in the stipulated time.

Also Read: Karnataka DyCM indicates hike in monthly water charges in Bengaluru

Shoring up finances

On the proposal of the Central government, the Cabinet used its special power to approve the taking up of mining activities over around 1,304 acres in Kolar Gold Fields at Kolar, where tailing dump has been made.

This was done under Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) Act (17).

The mining works have been awarded to Bharat Gol Mines Ltd, which has to pay arrears of ₹75.24 crore to Karnataka.

The Cabinet also gave a nod for the collection of pending water and property bills from women’s SHGs under urban local bodies across the state. They are expected to collect only the pending dues.

After the collection, the local bodies are expected to be given 5 percent of the total collected pending dues.

There is a pending ₹20.25 crore water bill in urban local bodies and ₹1,860.17 crore property tax. Around 30-40 percent of bills are pending in all the urban local bodies.

(Edited by Arkadev Ghoshal)

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