July 8, 2006

Caretakers of status quo

No company CEO would want to be in Mr Ashok Kheny’s shoes right now. Not many companies, in fact, would want to do with business with Karnataka. Whatever the outcome of the govt.-Kheny tussle over the Mysore-Bangalore Expressway project, it’s not doing much good for the investment outlook in our state. The twists, u-turns and the roundabouts Mr Kheny of NICE has had to negotiate in the corridors of power wouldn't encourage project promoters to make a beeline to Karnataka.
Investor confidence in our govt. has not been very high for some time now. Our politicians and bureaucracy don’t give the impression of being pro-changers. If anything, they seem to act as if they are caretakers of status quo - ‘custodians of poverty’ is Mr Kheny’s preferred term to describe the Mysore officialdom.
Deputy commissioner, Mr Selvakumar, the highest district official, in his dealings with Mr Kheny and NICE, hasn’t come out as someone who acts with conviction. He directed the police to block work on the expressway from the Mysore end on the plea that MUDA had yet to get some Rs.84 lakhs as acquisition dues for nearly 15 acres KIADB (industrial area dev. Board) had acquired to be handed over to NICE. Mr Kheny who claims NICE has already cleared the dues wondered why his work on the project was being blocked, that too, with an unseemly show of police force.
The deputy commissioner, who is also MUDA chair, may justify his stand on a technicality, with transactions between government agencies being usually a matter of book adjustment . Question is: does a lapse on the part of KIADB warrant a forcible hold-up of work on the expressway, particularly when its executing agency is not at fault? It is not as if the govt. hasn’t allowed earlier any project implementation, pending compliance of a transaction between two govt. agencies. When Mr Kheny wanted a letter stating reasons for the hold-up the DC suggested Mr Kheny to approach KIADB. The DC may well have been bureaucratically correct. Some may call it buck-passing. Upshot is such conduct doesn't further our image of being investor-friendly.


Blog-Capt. Anup Murthy said...

I think I mentioned this some time back in another forum and I want to loosely quote Ronald reagan when he was President of the United Sates when he said that the Government could not solve problems because "it was the Government that was the problem".

I don't know the DC personally and I have been told that he is a nice man. But, whats that got to do with anything. We don't need nice people. We need decisive ones. In his case, he is answering to his political masters, i.e. the first family of Karnataka.

I am quite surprised that investors still see Bangalore as an investment destination. Ten minutes in that unruly traffic and bad roads, poor water and electricity supply is enough to put off someone like me, born and brought up in this state.

The BMIC project, in my opinion is a much needed one, a critical part of infrastructure that is a day late and a dollar short. But it should have been done properly, rehabilitation of displaced persons made and so on. Thats not being contested by the ruling family. They are only making land a big issue because they may have vested interest in this or what else is the reason? Similar noises were made against Narayana Murthy and Infosys was called as a "land grabber".

In case of the BMIC project, why did the de-facto ruler HDD Gowda give permissions in the first place, why go back on it now. I thought HDK was a little better. Now these are all relative terms isn't it? We, the public, are fools, and I have said it many times in the past. It is us that elect such baffoons who can only put their pockets before public interest.

srinivas said...

Pls read the report on this project in The Hindu dated 24th January 2007. It clearly exposes the "Real Intention" of NICE and Mr. Ashok Kheny.

If I am given ownership to sell Government acquired lands at rock bottom prices at prevailing Market prices on each side of the Toll road even before completion of the toll road PLUS enjoy 30 years of toll collection before handing over the toll roads back, I am ready to undertake similar projects all over India.