Muniyappa now Minister small, micro industries

K H Muniyappa was elevated as the Minister of Micro and Small Industries in the Congress-led UPA government on Sunday.

With the change in portfolio, the Union Minister of State for Railways’s dream to have a Cabinet rank has come true, though his expectation was to get an independent-functioning berth, preferably, National Highway and Shipping.

Limited powers

Working as a minister of state for national highways under the ministership of T R Baalu, Muniyappa had no authority to take any independent decisions. Also, he was a member of the Congress while Baalu, although in a strong post in the UPA government, belonged to the DMK. The party differences made it virtually impossible for Muniyappa to function independently.

He could not even complain against the minister in case of non-cooperation as it could prove either futile or even boomerang on him. Work on the national highways in Tamil Nadu got prominence under Baalu, but Muniyappa had to struggle to get funds and other support for even basic work in Karnataka, say his supporters, adding that work on the Kolar-Nangali four-lane road was flagged off even under such circumstances.

He was moved to Railways as a minister of state during a reshuffle, but had to share space with two other ministers. Now, he had to work under Mamta Bannerjee from Trinamool Congress and had to deal with one-sided decisions, added sources close to Muniyappa.

Now, an independent portfolio has come as a relief to the minister. Speaking to Deccan Herald, he said the opportunity to serve the citizens of the nation and Kolar has gladdened him. “Micro and small industries is a larger portfolio and the size of development work can also be much bigger. I hope I live up to the expectations of the party leaders,” he added.

What for Kolar?

The benefits for Kolar district through the change in portfolio are, however, under debate.
Industrial activities are on only in Kolar, Bangarpet and Malur taluks and in Kolar Gold Fields. Also, the opening of industries has created jobs in large numbers only in Malur.

In contrast, Kolar Gold Fields is considered the industrial city of the district and most residents there are factory workers and their families. About 5,000 workers were forced to look for other means of livelihood in Malur, Whitefield and Bangalore, after the gold mines were closed.

The demand for establishment of small industries as alternative means of employment for the gold mine workers is already 12 years old. Every party in power has promised to ensure the workers are provided other means of livelihood, but the condition of the workers has not improved much.

Now, all eyes are on Muniyappa, to see how he responds to the job requirements of the erstwhile mine workers and also to find to what extent the small industries develop in the district.

Old work

As the Minister of State for Railways, Muniyappa had declared opening of new railway lines in the district, including the Madanapalli-Srinivaspur-Kolar route, Mulbagal-Bethamangala-BEML-Bangarpet route, Kolar-Whitefield route and a direct route from Marikuppam to Andhra Pradesh. The change in Muniyappa’s portfolio, however, has turned people skeptic about the continuation of such railway works in the district.

“The government had given a green signal to all railway development projects. A change in portfolio need not mean a delay in the implementation of the railway projects. The work will all be completed in time,” promised Muniyappa.

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