Yatnal's induction raises hopes on projects

BIJAPUR JULY 3. The induction of the Bijapur MP, Basanagouda R.Patil Yatnal, into the Union Cabinet, has raised hopes for the early completion of Central projects in the region.

People seem to have high expectations on the broadgauge conversion work between Bijapur and Gadag. Mr. Yatnal spearheaded an agitation calling for the implementation of the project while he was the Bijapur MLA. In 1996, an agitation led by him turned violent, and a few bogies were set on fire.

It was one of his planks during 1999 election campaign.

In the beginning, he believed that he, being a ruling party MP, could pressure the Railway Ministry to earmark sufficient funds for this project.

A few days before the first Railway Budget after the 1999 elections, he said he would get at least Rs. 100 crore allotted for the work.

He was embarrassed when only Rs. 10 crore was allocated in that budget.

A considerable part of the allocation was diverted to other works later.

His hopes were dashed again in the February 2001 Railway Budget where only Rs. 10 crore was allocated for the work.

Though the Railway Ministry and the State Government decided to set up a joint venture corporate body, Karnataka Rail Infrastructure Development Enterprise (K-RIDE), under which the Bijapur-Gadag broadgauge conversion work was also proposed to be commissioned, the K-RIDE failed to take off.

Mr. Yatnal even threatened to resign from Lok Sabha, if provision for sufficient fund was not made in the 2002 Railway Budget for the work. Despite this only Rs. 20 crore was allocated.

Now that he is part of the ministry, he is expected to deliver the goods.

Moreover, it appears the completion of the much-delayed project before the next general election has become a prestige issue for him, which, according to his close aides, is on the top of his agenda.

People also expect Mr. Yatnal to expedite the National Highway No. 218 project connecting Bijapur and Hubli.

Work on the Rs. 200-crore project, which provides a link between many national highways in the State, was flagged off by the Union Minister concerned at Kolhar village (Basavanabagewadi taluk) recently.

People are eager to know whether Mr. Yatnal will revive the long-pending proposal for the construction of an aerodrome in Bijapur.

This can help farmers of the district export their horticultural produce.

The real challenge to the ability of Mr. Yatnal, who is the Minister of State for Textiles, is to find a solution to the problems of the handloom sector on which many people in Bijapur District depend for their livelihood.

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