Kumaraswamy mum on NICE project he once opposed

Kumaraswamy mum on NICE project he once opposed

Chief Minister H D Kumaraswamy, who was a vocal critic of the Bangalore-Mysore Infrastructure Corridor (BMIC) and the controversies surrounding the project when he was in the Opposition, remained non-committal on taking action, now that he is in power.

Kumaraswamy was on Friday responding to BJP general secretary C T Ravi’s demand that the Congress-JD(S) coalition should implement a Joint House Committee report on the alleged irregularities in the BMIC project by its promoter Nandi Infrastructure Corridor Enterprises. Ravi accused Kumaraswamy of “adjustment politics.”

NICE owner Ashok Kheny is now a member of the Congress, Kumaraswamy’s coalition partner.

“It was the BJP that taught me the adjustment,” Kumaraswamy told reporters. “In 2006, I wanted to scrap the project and moved the proposal before the Cabinet. Then, about 16-17 BJP ministers led by deputy chief minister (B S Yeddyurappa) boycotted the meeting. Why didn’t they act then,” he asked.

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A Joint House Committee headed by then Law Minister T B Jayachandra submitted its report on alleged irregularities in the BMIC project in 2016.

NICE has been accused of violating the framework agreement with the government while implementing the project. While the agreement was inked in 1997 and construction began in 2004, only 41 km of peripheral road, 8.5 km of link road and 4 km of the expressway have been constructed and tolled.

As an Opposition leader, Kumaraswamy had demanded the BMIC project be taken over by the government. He had even charged that NICE was given hundreds of acres of valuable land around Bengaluru in violation of the framework agreement.

“I want to state clearly that my government will not stand by any illegal activity or protect anyone involved in it,” Kumaraswamy said. Asked if that meant he would implement the Joint House Committee report on the BMIC project, he said: “The report is yet to be accepted by the Assembly.”