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BJP, JD(S) launch joint fight against NICE in Karnataka

NICE, the BMIC promoter, has been accused of violating the framework agreement with the government while implementing the project.
Last Updated : 21 July 2023, 14:16 IST
Last Updated : 21 July 2023, 14:16 IST
Last Updated : 21 July 2023, 14:16 IST
Last Updated : 21 July 2023, 14:16 IST

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In their first joint news conference demonstrating BJP-JD(S) unity, former chief ministers Basavaraj Bommai and H D Kumaraswamy announced Friday their fight against alleged large-scale irregularities in the Bangalore-Mysore Infrastructure Corridor (BMIC) project promoted by Nandi Infrastructure Corridor Enterprise (NICE).

The two leaders demanded that the Congress government should take over the NICE project and order a judicial inquiry. Taking over the NICE Project would generate revenues worth Rs 20,000-30,000 crore to the government, they said.

The duo mentioned two reports on the NICE project: one by a House Committee headed by senior Congress lawmaker T B Jayachandra and another by a Cabinet sub-committee headed by former minister J C Madhuswamy.

"In a recent order, the Supreme Court said that the government has powers to initiate action. Jayachandra raised the issue in the Assembly and demanded action. Let the Congress government make its stand clear on the issue," Bommai said.

NICE, the BMIC promoter, has been accused of violating the framework agreement with the government while implementing the project. The NICE managing director, Ashok Kheny, had contested the 2018 and 2023 Assembly polls as a Congress candidate from Bidar South. Kheny was also a Karnataka Makkala Paksha MLA between 2013 and 2018.

"The company acquired 13,000 acres of excess land, which has to be taken over by the government as per the court order," Bommai said.

Kumaraswamy charged that tolls amounting to Rs 1,325 crore had been collected illegally. "The toll amount has to be recovered from the company by conducting an audit as it was not authorised to collect this money," he said.

The JD(S) wanted to raise the NICE issue in the Assembly. Instead, a news conference was done to speak about it as the JD(S) decided to boycott the legislature session in support of the BJP whose 10 MLAs were suspended for "unruly" behaviour.

Appreciating Bommai for his action towards winning court cases against NICE, Kumaraswamy said he was helpless as CM when the JD(S)-Congress coalition was in power. "We will fight inside and outside the legislature against corruption and irregularities of the Congress government," Kumaraswamy said.

Won't be vindictive: DKS

Reacting to the charges, Deputy Chief Minister D K Shivakumar said the NICE project was brought in when JD(S) supremo H D Deve Gowda was CM (1994-96). "Even H D Kumaraswamy was CM. If there were irregularities, they could've taken action," he said. "Our government will not be vindictive. We will definitely take action if there's something wrong."

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Published 21 July 2023, 14:13 IST

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