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Will Basavakalyan get its due?

By Rishikesh Bahadur Desai

BIDAR, MARCH 10. Will the Deputy Chief Minister and Finance Minister, Siddaramaiah, concede the demand for funds to develop Basavakalyan into an important stopover on the heritage tourism map? That was the question on the minds of the people of Bidar on the eve of the budget presentation.

The ancient town, where the 12th Century saint poet Basaveshwara perfected his Kayaka theory of equality and dignity of labour, is in dire need of funds. It lacks amenities that would attract tourists in large numbers, and the many monuments and structures in the town where Basaveshwara set up the first parliament of religions are 900 years old and need maintenance. Basavakalyan is regarded as sacred by Veerashaivas and other devotees of Basaveshwara, and preservation of the monuments is also a matter of emotional importance for members of the community.

Many plans

There have been many plans to develop the centre into a world-class tourist destination. In 1994, the Janata Dal government headed by (late) J.H. Patel accepted a proposal to set up a "Basavakalyan Development Authority," which was to be funded by the State Government. Mr. Patel announced a grant of Rs. 25 crores for the authority. However, the authority could not be set up.

The Congress government headed by S.M. Krishna announced a grant of Rs. 15 crores for the "authority." However, since the authority had not been formed, the sanction remained only on paper.

Ordinance

In 2004, an Ordinance was issued and the Revenue Secretary, S.M. Jamdar, was appointed Special Officer for setting up the authority. The Bill on formation of the authority was not tabled in the Legislative Assembly, although it was passed in the Legislative Council. The Ordinance envisaged an authority which would prepare development programmes for implementation in Basavakalyan at an estimated cost of Rs. 150 crores. The authority was to not only take up development works but also assume powers on a par with local bodies such as the town municipal council. It was to be managed by a commissioner, assisted by a board of directors. Villages and towns of archaeological and historical importance around Basavakalyan were also to be administered by the authority.

Funds promised

The Chief Minister, N. Dharam Singh, has announced a grant of Rs. 10 crores from the special package for Bidar district for the development of Basavakalyan.

The Union Minister of State for Planning, M.V. Rajashekaran, and the President of the Karnataka Pradesh Congress Committee, B. Janardhana Poojary, have promised to provide money from their local area development funds.

The Bharatiya Janata Party leader "Mukhyamantri" Chandru has also promised to contribute.

Mr. Dharam Singh and Mr. Siddaramaiah have the opportunity to translate assurances into action.

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