Among the investment proposals cleared by the State High Level Clearance Committee, which met on Monday under the chairmanship of the Chief Minister, was one filed by Murugesh R. Nirani, Minister for Large and Medium Industries. Mr. Nirani is a member of the committee which cleared 34 investment proposals amounting to Rs. 94,000 crore on Monday.

Asked whether it was proper for Mr. Nirani to clear a proposal from his own company, a top Government official, retorted: “Is it wrong for a company promoted by a Minister to file an investment proposal?” Asked whether the Minister participated in the discussions pertaining to Nirani Sugars' proposal, he said, “The Minister remained quiet when this specific issue was being discussed.” When asked whether Mr. Nirani withdrew from proceedings when the issue was discussed, he said, “The Minister was withdrawn and quiet but did not leave the room.” The official said leaving the room would have been impractical because the committee cleared each proposal “in about one or two minutes”. “When foreign investors are being offered special treatment, what is wrong in promoting local entrepreneurs?” he asked.

Documents available with The Hindu show that M/s. Nirani Sugars Ltd. filed a proposal to expand its cane crushing capacity from 10,000 tonnes a day to 15,000 tonnes a day.

The company also proposed to increase cogeneration capacity from 62 MW to 67 MW at its unit in Mudhol in Bagalkot district.

The project would require 30 acres and 37 guntas of land and an additional investment of Rs. 87.10 crore. While the promoters would bring in investment to the tune of Rs. 8.71 crore, accounting for 10 per cent of the cost, Rs. 26.13 crore, accounting for 30 per cent of the cost of the project, would be drawn from the Sugar Development Fund. The promoters hope to raise the remaining Rs. 52.26 crore as term loans from financial institutions. Mr. Nirani is one of the three “main” promoters of the company, the other two being Kamala M. Nirani and Hunumanth Rudrappa Nirani. In response to the company's proposal, the committee observed that the land required is adjacent to “existing premises to be acquired and allotted by the Karnataka Industrial Areas Development Board. It also advised the company to obtain necessary clearances and adopt rainwater harvesting practices.

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