Karnataka scouts to acquire coal blocks outside the State

Replying to the debate on the 2011-12 budget in the Legislative Assembly, he said despite writing several letters and exerting pressure on the Centre, coal allocation to the State was not up to expectations.

"To take the (new) power projects forward, it's possible to find coal blocks outside", Yeddyurappa said.

The State government is exploring the possibility of importing coal and partnering in joint ventures to invest in equity in coal mines of other States as well as other countries so as to ensure availability of power needed for the State, according to the budget.

Yeddyurappa said tax collection was expected to exceed the Rs 36,228 crore target by at least Rs 1,500 crore. It was estimated that commercial tax collection would be Rs 500 crore higher than the target, excise revenue higher by Rs 600 crore and motor and forest development tax by Rs 200 crore each.

Stating that the State's fiscal position had improved significantly in the past one year, he said the GSDP (gross state domestic product) was expected to grow by 8.2 per cent in 2010-11, up from 5.2 per cent in the previous fiscal.

Noting that his Government was completing three years on May 30 this year, the Chief Minister declared that a two-year blueprint would be prepared in consultation with the opposition parties to speed up development.

NABARD had released Rs 42 crore to the State's proposed Rs 100-crore project to build 100 warehouses and work on it would begin soon, he said.

Yeddyurappa said steps were not taken to sell Government land in 2010-11 as real estate prices were ruling low though it had targeted to garner Rs 3,000 crore from this exercise.

With property prices now picking up, government land would be given on long-lease to set up a business park near Bangalore International Airport, he added.

Yeddyurappa announced that Rs 100 crore would be provided to supply drinking water and drill borewells, including Rs 25 crore in Bangalore.

Leader of Opposition Siddaramaiah (Congress) termed the separate agriculture budget as a "political gimmick".

He said the departments of agriculture, horticulture, energy, energy, irrigation, animal husbandry and fisheries have been tucked into Part-I and presented as "Agriculture Budget". "How can you call it agriculture budget ?", he asked.

Siddaramaiah termed the reply to the budget discussion by the Chief Minister as "most disappointing" and led the Congress members in a walk-out in protest. Expressing similar sentiments, JDS also later staged a walkout.

The House gave its approval to the Vote on Account to incur expenditure up to July 31, 2011, as per the budget estimate

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