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.