“Our Government is working towards building a prosperous Karnataka”
“Karnataka is one of the first states to lift the lockdown and also enabled functioning of all the industries. New Industrial Policy has ushered in great changes in the industrial sector. The Policy lays emphasis on Advanced Manufacturing, R&D and Innovation and builds-up on Karnataka’s leadership position in the field of innovation, where we are ranked No.1 successively for the 2nd time in the country,” said Chief Minister of Karnataka, B.S. Yediyurappa in an interview to Deepak Kumar Rath. Excerpts:
How do you assess your fourth tenure as Chief Minister of Karnataka?
I see it as an opportunity to serve the people of Karnataka. Our Government is working towards building a prosperous Karnataka. We have kept the wheel of progress in motion despite several impediments like floods and Covid-19 pandemic.
Tell us about the development initiatives taken by your government in Karnataka.
Despite severe and repeated floods and Covid-19 pandemic, we have managed to strike a balance between life and livelihood.
Karnataka is one of the first states to lift the lockdown and also enabled functioning of all the industries. New Industrial Policy has ushered in great changes in the industrial sector. The Policy lays emphasis on Advanced Manufacturing, R&D and Innovation and builds-up on Karnataka’s leadership position in the field of innovation, where we are ranked No.1 successively for the 2nd time in the country. We have also taken measures to make it easier to procure land and also for easier labour compliances.
With support from the Government of India various infrastructure development projects are going on in full swing. Bidar and Kalaburgi Airports are operational. Shivamogga airport work is expedited. National Highway network is being enhanced remarkably.
Farmers are given all kinds of support to double their income. Farmers are given direct monetary support of Rs. 4000/- each in addition to Rs. 6,000/- under PM-KISAN. We have also brought an ordinance and amended APMC Act in the state to provide better marketing options to them.
We have also laid the foundation for India’s first toy cluster in Koppal. We are also promoting income generating activities for marginalised groups in order to reduce regional inequalities focusing on Kalyan Karnataka Region.
Bengaluru Mission 2022 is an ambitious project of the government, which is a project aimed at revamping city infrastructure over two years.
We are actively working on industrial corridors. Tumakuru, which is just 70 kms away from Bengaluru, is going to be one of the largest industrial townships in the entire country with 10000 acres of planned area.
How do you see BJP’s winning spree in Karnataka Assembly by-elections and Panchayat elections?
The BJP has emerged as the single largest party at all levels in the world’s largest democracy, India. It has undoubtedly strengthened its roots at the base level across the state. And people are favouring BJP based on its performance and development agenda.
As regards Covid-19 and vaccination drive, which began from January 16, what is your assessment of the current situation?
Karnataka has successfully contained Covid-19 pandemic across the state and now the number of cases have decreased remarkably. Meanwhile, the new year has brought a new gift of vaccines for Covid-19. Karnataka has set the vaccination drive rolling throughout the state as per the Government of India guidelines. We are the number one state in the country in the vaccination drive too. 2.62 lakh health care-workers have been vaccinated in the last twelve days. But there are many more to be covered and I am confident that we will cover them too soon.
What are the lessons from Covid-19
An adage says: “never let a good crisis go to waste”. As per our Prime Minister’s call, we are converting the Covid-19 challenge into opportunities.
Karnataka, so far, seems to have managed to keep the numbers under control. What have you done differently compared to other states?
Testing, Tracing, Tracking, Treating and Technology were our strategy to control the coronavirus spread in the state. Healthcare facilities were stepped up at the early stages to combat the spread of virus. Apart from this, strict enforcement of Central government guidelines like wearing masks, social distance, sanitizing was ensured.
The whole government machinery with cooperation from the people of Karnataka, has worked tirelessly to contain the pandemic.
Karnataka is home to the IT industry. What difficulties did this sector face due to lockdown and how did the government combat with those?
All sectors were affected due to the pandemic and the IT sector is no exception. IT/BT companies in the state were asked not to lay off the employees and were instructed to resume operations with 50 per cent from their office space.
You have faced many challenges in your political career. Where does handling Covid-19 rank in that list?
The Covid-19 challenge is unique and is unlike the political challenges. The safety of the lives was of utmost importance and we left no stone unturned to keep the state’s people protected.
While presenting the 2020-2021 budget, you had admitted that the state was facing the worst financial crisis ever as the GST received from the Centre for 2019-2020 was low. How has Covid-19 impacted the state’s fiscal position?
The state has a reputation for its economic discipline. Despite the flood and Covid-19 challenges we have been carefully taking steps to strike a balance between development and challenges. We have brought the pandemic under control and this is having a positive impact on the state’s economy. We will follow the guidelines of the Union government to revive and speed up economic revival.
Is there any plan to merge some of the departments such as minor irrigation with water resources and backward classes with social welfare to cut wasteful expenditure?
A cabinet subcommittee has been set up to look into the matter. We will take a call based on its report.
In Uttar Pradesh, Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath has promised jobs to all migrants. Will you also give similar assurances?
Jobs have been ensured to the migrants under the National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme. Since the economic activities have begun in full fledge, migrants have returned to find employment in the urban areas. A skill connect portal has also been launched to connect the demand-supply chain of workforce in the state, which will benefit the workers as well as the industries.