CM makes impassioned plea at CII summit to save lakes

In vision of future proposed by business titans, govt strangely absent

Karnataka Chief Minister H D Kumaraswamy in CII summit. (DH Photo/Akhil Kadidal)

A disclosure by five Karnataka-based corporations on Wednesday that they would rejuvenate six lakes in the City prompted Chief Minister H D Kumaraswamy to make an impassioned plea asking businesses to do more.

Speaking at an annual summit held by the Confederation of Indian Industries (CII) in Bengaluru, the chief minister painted a dismal future for the city unless wealthy companies took the lead in reviving water bodies. "This government wants to restore lakes; you people must cooperate with us," he said.

Five corporations or organizations, including Meritor CVC, Elcia, Wipro, Biocon and Timken India said that they would revive Kenchenhalli, Doddatoguru, Shikaripallya, Yarendahalli, Kammasandra and Margondahalli lakes. In return, the chief minister said he would solve problems faced by the companies in the future. "Whatever problems you are facing, on your side, in your organization... you can approach me and get a solution," he said.

In discussions held at the summit prior to the chief minister's arrival, however, business tycoons proposed a vision of the future dominated by local technology entrepreneurs solving Karnataka's problems, while making little or no mention of government participation.

Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw, the billionaire founder of the biotechnology firm, Biocon, suggested that Bengaluru, with its large population of talented professionals could solve some of the state's most pressing problems.

"This is a city with a population of 10 million, of which 2 million are software engineers and another 1 million are other engineers or scientists, which means that the city has a large amount of talent. The question then becomes how to leverage this talent pool and the technology base we have created," she said and proposed that the city's engineers could offer technological solutions to fix many of the problems afflicting the city and the state.

One proposed solution involved using robots to undertake menial tasks such as picking litter. Mazumdar-Shaw suggested that the invention and deployment of such robotic units could send a message to the world of what Bengaluru is capable of. The Biocon chief also said that she another tech titan, Azim Premji, the chairman of the Information Technology giant, Wipro Limited, were going forward with an initiative to improve air quality in the City. "We don't want Bengaluru to go the way of Delhi or Lucknow," she said and added that it is embarrassing to see that seven of the top 10 polluted cities in the world are in India.

George Defends Elevated Corridor

Home Minister K.J. George appeared to consent to the view that the city's entrepreneurial spirit was responsible for the much of the city's development. He described Electronics city, which was begun a private enterprise and even in its infancy supported nearly 35,000 jobs, as a far-sighted venture. "Nobody in the government thought of that," he said, but went on blame a lack of funding in the late '80s and '90s for hobbling the government's infrastructural plans.

"When we finally got the funds, it was too late," he said and went on to list the current administration's infrastructural plans as a sign that things had changed. "With a new Metro line from Silk Board to K R Puram which is being funded by an innovative funding model, the Peripheral Ring Road, the Elevated Corridor and the Satellite Town Ring Road, we can give more mobility to Bangaloreans," he said.

Criticism that the Elevated Corridor would fell a large number of trees, prompted George to defend his administration.

"There is a statement that people are the government. I don't agree with this. Ordinary people can represent a cause or an association. Elected government officials are the true representatives of the people. Our decisions may not be acceptable to 100 per cent of the people but if you are not happy with the decisions, you have only one way – the next election. Change the policies. We have a democratic setup."

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CM makes impassioned plea at CII summit to save lakes

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