The Karnataka government has never declined to provide land and funds for railways projects, declared Chief Minister Siddaramaiah in the Legislative Council on Thursday. It had only appealed to the Railway Ministry to either fully finance projects or scale down the State’s share to reduce Karnataka’s burden, he said while replying to a debate in the House. He said he had made the appeal in a letter to Railway Minister D.V. Sadananda Gowda prior to the budget presentation. This was misreported in a section of the press to suggest that the State had declined to provide land and its share of money, he added.
Under the present system, Karnataka was obliged to provide land and share 50 per cent of the financial burden for railway projects. Karnataka was one of nine States which fall under this pattern, while the Railway Ministry fully finances all projects in other States, he said.
In his letter dated June 5, he had urged Mr. Gowda to take up projects in Karnataka fully under the Ministry’s budget or agree to a two-third and one-third cost-sharing (including the land cost) between the Railway Ministry and the State, Mr. Siddaramaiah said.
He said 11 railway projects were in various stages of completion in Karnataka, while two had been approved. The State would have to provide 14,000 acres of land and Rs. 5,500 crore for this, which was a huge burden. In the same letter, he had also sought a high-speed rail between Bangalore and Mysore, but the budget announced a Mysore–Bangalore–Chennai train, he said.
“Is it wrong to ask the Ministry to help the State?” he asked the Opposition. He also asked Leader of the Opposition K.S. Eshwarappa to lobby on behalf of the State as a senior leader of the Bharatiya Janata Party.
“I think the entire House is agreeable to this,” Mr. Siddaramaiah concluded, saying that he would take an all-party delegation to Delhi to press for this demand. Mr. Eshwarappa agreed to this.