A scheme of successive State governments to regularise unauthorised constructions in urban areas that fell flat is being reworked by the Congress government, and an Ordinance will be sent to the Governor for promulgation.

A meeting of the State Cabinet here on Friday discussed at length the pros and cons of the proposed Ordinance, particularly in the light of the serious opposition to an earlier amendment to the Karnataka Town and Country Planning Act under which a deadline was also set for regularising unauthorised constructions — violation of building bylaw violations etc. The opposition largely centred on the penalty that was sought to the imposed.

Briefing presspersons on the decisions taken by the Cabinet, Minister for Law and Parliamentary Affairs, T.B. Jayachandra, said the larger aim of the Ordinance was to offer a fresh deadline, December 2013, for building bylaw violations. The new amendments would be worked out under the rules of the KTCP Act to ensure that the Ordinance was more people friendly.

There are several lakhs of properties in urban areas that have been constructed in violation of the building bylaws and the authorities are expected to net a huge sum of money as penalty.

It will help property owners since it will enable them to obtain clear documents for their property. The Ordinance is also being looked at as a move to garner votes for the ruling party, similar to the move that was initiated by the coalition governments, headed by N. Dharam Singh and H.D. Kumaraswamy.

Karnataka spices board

A new Karnataka spices board, with headquarters in Hubli, will be constituted shortly to oversee the management and promotion of spices (including chillies and onions). The government will provide Rs. 2 crore to the board to commence its work, the State Cabinet decided on Friday. A Centre for Excellence will come up at Hassan under the Indo-Dutch Work Plan to promote and transfer new agricultural technologies.

It will be spread over 387 acres of land and will enable a qualitative and quantitative improvement in agricultural production.

Another subject on the Cabinet’s agenda was the selection of the next Chief Secretary to the State government since the present incumbent, S.V. Ranganath, will retire from service on October 30.

Cabinet members authorised Chief Minister Siddaramaiah to finalise the selection. Among the contenders are three Additional Chief Secretaries: Arvind Jadhav, Kaushik Mukherjee and L.V. Nagarajan, apart from a list of 14 others who are largely on deputation with the Union government.

The other important decisions of the Cabinet included the approval for recruitment of coast guards to serve in the coastal police; approval to a scheme of the Health Department to supply free sanitary napkins to girls (adolescents ) hailing from poor families; modernisation of the fishing harbour in Uttara Kannada district; approval for expansion of the Hutti Gold Mines at Raichur in the light of the spurt in gold prices; 22 days of government holidays in the next calendar year; an additional allocation of Rs. 200 crore (apart from the Rs. 350 crore earmarked in the State Budget) for pending railway projects; and a compensation of Rs. 25,000 per head of cattle lost following the foot-and-mouth disease. A compensation of Rs. 15,000 is also likely to be provided for each calf.

The State Cabinet also approved the drafting of a new advertisement policy to ensure that all establishments in the media — print and television — are provided with government advertisements on an equal footing (based on certain parameters).

Towards this end, all agencies of the government, including the boards and corporations, apart from government departments, will henceforth route their advertisements through the Department of Information, which will be the sole channel for the purpose.

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