Staff Correspondent

Of the Rs. 4.5 crore released by Government, Rs. 1.19 crore has been spent

A sum of Rs. 3.65 crore sought from Department of Tourism to take up six projects

Rs. 1.6 crore set aside to construct a private bus-stand, but land is yet to be given

Madikeri: Kodagu district in-charge Secretary, Gaurav Gupta, has asked Deputy Commissioner K.R. Niranjan to take steps to prepare an action plan to take up relief works in the three taluks within a week and ensure it is spent within a month.

He was presiding over a review meeting at the Old Assembly Hall here on Sunday. Mr. Niranjan said that Rs. 4.5 crore was released by the Government, of which Rs. 1.19 crore was spent. Of the remaining Rs. 3.31 crore, Rs. 1 crore each would be released to the three taluks. Mr. Gupta asked Headquarters Assistant to Deputy Commissioner Chikkathimmaiah to instruct the tahsildars to take steps to prepare the action plans. He told Mr. Niranjan to spend the money and submit utilisation certificates to the Government to draw more funds under the calamity relief fund.

Mr. Gupta instructed the executive engineers of the Panchayat Raj Engineering division and the Public Works Department (PWD) to take up pothole filling works in the district within seven days. Replying to a question on the slow progress of the Mysore-Bantwal roadworks, including a 60-km stretch of Kushalnagar, Madikeri and Sampaje in Kodagu, Mr. Gupta said that if the contractor did not speed up the works, he should be blacklisted and the earnest money deposit forfeited.

Mr. Niranjan, who brought several problems concerning the district to the notice of Mr. Gupta, said Rs. 3.65 crore had been sought from the Department of Tourism to take up six tourism projects, of which Rs. 1 crore had been received. There were plans to make improvements to the Raja Seat, Gaddige, Nalknad Palace, Honnammanakere, Talacauvery and the waterfalls in the district. A special package of Rs. 250 crore, releasing Rs. 50 crore every year, over a period of five years, was needed to keep all roads in Kodagu in good condition,Mr. Niranjan said.

The issue of construction of a skywalk to connect the two wings of the district hospital here came up at the meeting, with Mr. Gupta suggesting that the PWD examine whether the current estimate of Rs. 2 crore could be scaled down. A sum of Rs. 1.6 crore had been set apart under the Karnataka Municipal Reforms Project (KMRP) for the construction of a private bus-stand in the city here, but land was yet to be given by the University of Agricultural Sciences, Commissioner of the Madikeri City Municipal Council, D.H. Raya said. Assistant Commissioner Akram Pasha said that there was pressure from the Government to utilise the funds of Rs. 1.6 crore for some other project since land was not available. Mr. Gupta said he would examine the issue. Everything was calm on the law and order front, except confusion over the transport of cattle from Kodagu to Kerala, Superintendent of Police T.R. Suresh said.

Mr. Niranjan said a sum of Rs. 4 crore was released last year and Rs. 2 crore was released this year to take up construction of the district administration and zilla panchayat office complexes on the outskirts of the city. The estimated project cost was Rs. 19.9 crore. Executive Engineer of the PWD Satyanarayana Rao said tenders could not be invited if one-third of the project cost was not released.

To contain the man-elephant conflict in Kodagu, the district administration had proposed seeking a sum of Rs. 3.30 crore, Mr. Niranjan said. Replying to the demands for doctors in the district hospital, officers and staff in the departments of Animal Husbandry, Women and Child Welfare and Agriculture, Mr. Gupta said the problem was the same in every district and it was a policy matter.

Later, speaking to presspersons, Mr. Gupta stated that he was not aware of the Rs. 350-crore proposal sent by the Forest Department to the Centre, through the State Government, to find a permanent solution to the elephant menace in the district. He said he would look into it. Mr. Niranjan too feigned ignorance on the matter.

Agreeing that shifting the private bus stand here was a must, Mr. Gupta said he would take it up with the authorities concerned.

To another question on improvements to Karnataka State Road Transport Corporation, he said over the next one-and-a-half years, about 70 buses would be introduced in Kodagu.

He added that a depot in Kushalnagar and a division workshop were on the anvil for which he had sought land up to 12 acres from the district administration. On the issue of construction of Suvarna Samskritika Samuchchya at the current location of the Town Hall, Mr. Gupta said the issue could be resolved by the Deputy Commissioner.