Pranab Mukherjee to inaugurate Suvarna Soudha
The establishment of Suvarna Soudha, Karnataka’s second secretariat building, in the border district of Belgaum is being viewed as the beginning of a new chapter of development in the backward north Karnataka region.
The building, which marks a significant milestone in the chequered journey of Karnataka since the linguistic reorganisation of States in 1956, will be inaugurated by President Pranab Mukherjee on Thursday at 12.30 p.m.
The building, which has been named Suvarana Soudha to commemorate the golden jubilee of the formation of Karnataka, will be renamed Suvarna Vidhana Soudha, as declared by Speaker of the Legislative Assembly K.G. Bopaiah recently. Chief Minister Jagadish Shettar has said a Government Order to his effect will be issued after the inauguration of the building.
Construction of the building here comes as a categorical “reassertion” of the State government that Belgaum is an integral part of Karnataka vis-à-vis the boundary dispute, which the Maharashtra government has taken to the Supreme Court.
Though Kannadigas here are jubilant over the “fulfilment of the long-cherished dream”, the Marathi community is resisting the President’s participation in the inaugural function as the apex court is yet to deliver its verdict on the boundary dispute.
It was H.D. Kumaraswamy, Chief Minister of the JD(S)-BJP coalition government, who announced that Suvarna Soudha would be built in Belgaum and performed ‘bhoomi puja’ on the historical Vaccine Institute premises at Tilakwadi on August 26, 2007. The venue was changed to its present site at Halga-Bastwad villages, 10 km from the city off Pune-Bangalore National Highway 4, following protests from environmentalists and local residents.
Subsequently, B.S. Yeddyurappa, who was Chief Minister then, performed ‘bhoomi puja’ and ‘guddali puja’ on January 22, 2009 for the construction of the building.
But, very few remember that it all started with four-time MLC M.P. Nadagouda, State president of the Janata Dal (United), and Prabhakar Kore and M.C. Nanaiah, both MLCs, mooting the idea and moving a resolution during S.M. Krishna’s term as Chief Minister demanding not just holding of the legislature session but also establishment of the second Vidhana Soudha in Belgaum and to develop the city as the “second capital” of the State. The resolution was accepted as a private member Bill by the then Chairman of the Legislative Council B.L. Shankar.
The four-floor structure, which has come up on 127 acres of land at a cost Rs. 391 crore, has a total built-up area of 60,398 sq. m. It houses the Assembly Hall (300-member capacity), Central Hall (450 members), Council Hall (100 members), conference halls with 250- and 150-member capacities each, a banquet hall (500 members), chambers of the Speaker and Deputy Speaker of the Assembly, and Chairperson and Deputy Chairperson of the Council, Assembly and Council secretariats, Chief Minister’s office, 38 Ministers’ chambers, Cabinet hall, meeting halls and office accommodations.