KARNATAKA

Bus fares may go up if fuel prices are hiked

GULBARGA, AUG. 14. The State Government is thinking of increasing bus fares if fuel prices are increased on Monday, the Minister for Transport and Water Resources, M. Mallikarjun Kharge, said on Saturday. A decision on the matter had been put off recently, he added.

Addressing presspersons here, he said the Government had not revised KSRTC (Karnataka Road Transport Corporation) bus fares even after fuel prices were increased thrice. The KSRTC would not be able to bear the burden of another increase in fuel prices. The previous government had authorised the four transport corporations to revise their fares after any change in diesel prices, Mr. Kharge added.

He called upon the leaders of the coalition Government not to issue contradictory statements about administrative decisions. "Let us not have statements and counter statements by partners of the coalition," he said. He was answering a question on why he had hinted at an increase in bus fares when the Deputy Chief Minister, Siddaramaiah, had ruled it out, sometime ago.

Low-interest bonds

Bonds with a high interest rate, which were issued to the public to raise money for irrigation projects, would be redeemed, Mr. Kharge said. "Though we are looking at issuing more bonds in the near future, we cannot sustain the very high interest rates that prevailed when they were first issued. We will pay the people their money and issue bonds with lower interest," he added.

He said that the ceiling fixed by the Government for raising money should be raised to Rs. 1,500 crores from Rs. 350 crores. "We need at least Rs. 1,600 crores to complete irrigation projects in the Krishna valley under Scheme A. All these issues will be discussed with the Chief Minister, N. Dharam Singh, on Monday." The Deputy Chief Minister, Siddaramaiah, the Chief Secretary, the Finance and Irrigation secretaries, and the managing directors of the Karnataka Niravari Nigam and Cauvery Niravari Nigam would be present at the meeting. He added that the Government planned to complete the Upper Krishna Project before December 2005.

Tribunal's visit

Mr. Kharge said that members of the Cauvery Water Disputes Tribunal would visit the State in September. The two members of the tribunal would visit Tamil Nadu on August 23, he added.

The Minister said he had received memoranda demanding that Krishna waters be diverted to the Masuti stream in Afzalpur taluk to help the surrounding areas tide over drinking water scarcity.

The Chief Engineer had been asked to study the situation and submit a report before Monday. We would look at the feasibility of diverting the stream, he added.

He said that water was let out from the Alamatti Dam as it had reached a dangerously high level and further storage could cause damage to the dam.

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