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"Investment Is Welcome"

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He is called the ‘colgate chief minister'. the reason is plain enough. D.V. Sadananda Gowda constantly sports a 24-carat smile and is known to get out of tricky political challenges, with his easy-going nature and unflappable demeanour. The usually ebullient Gowda, however, was sombre when BW's Venkatesha Babu met him late in the evening on the day he faced the Karnataka Legislature for the first time as chief minister. Gowda was thrust into the CM's post four months ago, when his mentor and predecessor B.S. Yeddyurappa quit after the state Lok Ayukta indicted him in the illegal mining case.

Excerpts:

Opposition parties and some analysts say that governance in the state has ground to a halt due to intra-party turbulence, and the focus is on survival related issues of the government...
Over the past three-and-a-half years, the first-ever BJP government in South India has worked hard to deliver on our promise of good governance and all round development. There might have been some hiccups, but the party will tackle them and rectify any errors.

In a democratic party, there might be differences of opinion, but we have ensured that governance is not affected in any manner. Just this week, my government organised a global agri-business and processing summit in which several players pledged an investment of Rs 1.1 lakh crore.

In June 2010, the government organised a global investors' meet (GIM) in Bangalore, which attracted a total investment of Rs 3.92 lakh crore. Of the 389 memoranda of understanding signed, 20 projects have already been implemented and 215 other projects are under various stages of implementation. My government regularly monitors investment. We intend to organise another GIM on 7-8 July next year to attract even more investment in the state. I want Karnataka to lead the country in industrial growth and development indices.

Karnataka faces acute shortage of power. Infotech and biotech companies in Bangalore constantly complain of infrastructure deficit — lack of adequate roads, traffic gridlocks, high cost of real estate, water supply woes, etc. How are you going to tackle these challenges?
I am proud to say the BJP government launched the Reach-1 of a world-class metro rail which will ease traffic congestion. I have requested the central government to provide additional funds to ensure speedy completion of the remaining phases of the metro rail, which will solve a number of these problems.

Through ABIDe (Agenda for Bengaluru Infrastructure and Development Task Force) and other forums, I regularly consult all stakeholders, including some leading industrialists, for the holistic development of the city.

Power crisis was a situation we inherited because of underinvestment in the sector by previous governments. We are trying to rectify the situation to ensure that there is minimum impact on industry. We have taken both short and long-term steps to alleviate this problem.

We also want to encourage industries to look at other cities in Karnataka such as Mysore, Gulbarga, Hubli, Mangalore and Belgaum as there is a lot of trained manpower available in these cities, too. My government is keen to promote uniform development across the state.

We have tried to bring in transparency in land acquisition for industrial purposes. Farmers and landholders need to be adequately compensated so that the state can develop rapidly. We are ready to provide whatever facilities are required for entrepreneurs to invest here.

Recently, another survey highlighted the fact that Bangalore was India's best city to live in. I am future surveys would also indicate that Karnataka is the best state in the country to invest in.

In the past, several former chief ministers have talked of making Bangalore another Singapore. What is your vision for the city?
I will not comment on what others might have promised (smiles). Instead of making grandiose vision statements, my aim is to implement and execute all the things planned for the city. There has been talk aplenty by several leaders, I would rather walk the talk. Bangalore already has a position on the global map.

We want to strengthen that even as we ensure equitable growth for all. Why just Bangalore? My aim is to focus on the all-round development
of the state.

(This story was published in Businessworld Issue Dated 19-12-2011)