Siddaramaiah to attend Kannada meet

BANGALORE, AUG. 21. The Deputy Chief Minister, Siddaramaiah, will visit the U.S. from September 3 to attend the World Kannada Conference to be held in Florida. He will also meet World Bank officials to discuss release of the third tranche of the $200-million loan under the Karnataka Economic Restructuring Loan (KERL) programme.

His visit will precede a weeklong review of World Bank-assisted programmes in the State by a team from the bank, which will arrive here on September 13 and tour the State.

Meanwhile, the Government has reassured the World Bank that it will continue the reforms programme taken up by the previous government.

Besides Mr. Siddaramaiah, the Ministers for Revenue and Agriculture, M.P. Prakash and K. Srinivasa Gowda, respectively, and Kannada writers and theatre personalities will participate in the Kannada conference.

Tour of districts

Addressing presspersons here today, Mr. Siddaramaiah, who also holds the Finance portfolio, said that the team led by the World Bank Country Director, Michael F. Carter, would visit some of the districts where bank-aided projects were being implemented. During its two-week visit, the team would evaluate the progress of projects.

Mr. Siddaramaiah said that at a meeting last month, he had told Mr. Carter about the Government's desire to continue the reform programme launched by the previous government, of the Congress.

The Krishna Government launched the Comprehensive Administrative and Fiscal Reform Programme in 2001 under the KERL programme in which $1 billion will be given in five instalments in five years. The then National Democratic Alliance government had rejected the State Government's proposal to go in for the third tranche of the loan of $200 million from the bank on the ground that the State had not achieved the targets under the medium-term fiscal reforms programme.

The State Government had requested the bank to increase lending to agricultural projects. The bank officials had shown an inclination to agree to the request with regard to projects such as watershed development and irrigation. However, the final negotiations on all issues with the bank would take place after the team's visit to the State, Mr. Siddaramaiah said.

Kannada meet

Mr. Siddaramaiah will inaugurate the Kannada conference in Florida on September 3. He is expected to return to Bangalore on September 11.

He said the Government had decided to set up a Kaginele Development Authority for the comprehensive development of Kaginele, the birthplace of saint-poet Kanakadasa in Haveri district.

The Kaginele Trust would be merged with the authority. The trust had not spent the Rs. 50 lakhs released last year, he said and added that more funds would be released to the authority this year for programmes. An advisory committee comprising Kannada writers and others would also be constituted to suggest plans for the authority, he said.

Mr. Siddaramaiah said the Ministry would be expanded before the end of the month. About 11 ministers each from the Congress and Janata Dal (S) were likely to be sworn in. The Chief Minister, N. Dharam Singh, was in New Delhi to finalise the list of the Congress Ministers.

Uma Bharti issue

About the move to prosecute the Madya Pradesh Chief Minister, Uma Bharti, in connection with the Hubli Idgah Maidan flag-hoisting incident in 1994, Mr. Siddaramaiah said: "The law will take its own course. How can we withdraw the case?"

A 10-year-old criminal case against Ms. Bharti in Hubli will up come before the First Additional District and Sessions Judge, Hubli, on Monday.