Those disturbing peace should be dealt with firmly: Bhardwaj

"I have no doubt that the concerned law enforcing agencies will act with promptitude against the offenders," he said in his Republic Day address, referring to Monday's  attacks on churches near Mysore and Bhatkal. Noting that the founding fathers had a vision to build a secular, united democratic society in which people of all faiths and religions enjoy basic freedoms and right to practice their religion, he said, "This is the basis of our democracy and there is no room to violate this fundamental principle of governance in our society."

"I am here to assure every Kannadiga-Hindu, Muslim, Christian, Sikh, Jain, or others--that they are secure in this land and their life, faith and property will be protected," he asserted. He noted that secularism was the basic structure of our constitution and it is his duty to ensure that the constitution principles are followed by all concerned in letter and spirit.

Two churches were attacked and a statue of Mother Mary damaged by miscreants in Mysore and Bhatkal in Uttara Kannada district. Chief Minister B S Yeddyurappa has directed the police to investigate and arrest the culprits.

Referring to the city of Bangalore as a unique city, which has become a brand ambassador for India with its knowledge capital and mild climate, Bhardwaj said, however the city had thrown various challenges such as law and order and housing.

The governor said he was aware that the Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagar Palike and the Bangalore Development Authority had played an important role in planning and developing the city and was happy that elections to BBMP have been announced and would soon be held.

He called for better air, road and rail connectivity in the state and city which was essential to integrate the state and develop the northern regions that lag behind in development. He lauded various initiatives taken by the government for farmers and promoting higher education.

Referring to floods that devastated north Karnataka, Bhardwaj said "the state administrative machinery needed to be galvanised to meet the daunting challenges so that the smile will be back on the faces of sorrow stricken people."

Expressing concern that shortage of power had been a major impediment, the Governor said he was hopeful that the "situation would improve" and assured that he would impress upon the Centre to give Karnataka a higher share of power.

While appreciating the fact that Karnataka was in the forefront in industrialisation and a front-runner in IT, BT and nano-technology, he advised that "initial lead gained by the state in this front is maintained and all efforts are made to attract investment into the state".

He said that foreign dignitaries had met him over the past six months and expressed business interest in Karnataka. "However, the climate of investment must be always favourable to Indian and foreign investors if rapid progress is to be made. It is also necessary to maintain a balanced growth and ensure that districts, hitherto neglected or denied such opportunity, be encouraged to come forward," he added.

He noted that regional imbalance in a highly developed state like Karnataka does not augur well for long-term development of the state and its people.  Making out a case for greater autonomy to universities, he said it was essential to "maintain academic and administrative excellence." "The trend to dilute the role of the Chancellor does not augur well for these institutions," he warned.

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