Vidhana Soudha access for only 150 select scribes

Vidhana Soudha access for only 150 select scribes

The government has issued fresh guidelines governing access to the three key buildings, citing the need to ramp up security with these reforms.

Only 150 journalists chosen by the state government will be allowed to enter the Vidhana Soudha, the Vikas Soudha and the Multistorey Building - Karnataka’s Secretariat - as part of a larger measure to regulate visitors to the corridors of power.

The government issued fresh guidelines governing access to the three key buildings, citing the need to improve security.

According to the guidelines issued by the Department of Personnel and Administrative Reforms (DPAR), a maximum of 150 journalists “recommended” by the Department of Information and Public Relations would be given yellow cards valid for one year. The police will permit only the journalists with yellow cards to enter the buildings.

The guidelines have been issued in the backdrop of the state government’s plan to declare the Vidhana Soudha and its surroundings as a high-security zone. This zone will have a new 100-member security force deployed to guard the Vidhana Soudha and the Vikas Soudha.

In July last year, the police had provided inputs and suggested the imposition of curbs on visitors and media personnel. A large number of visitors to the Vidhana Soudha caused security problems, the police had said.

Then Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy had said that “touts” were running amok and misleading citizens in the Secretariat, which he vowed to curb. He also said that the movement of media personnel, especially from news channels, was a nuisance as they would randomly approach ministers for comments.

“Several reforms have been initiated on entry into Vidhana Soudha, Vikas Soudha and MS Building in view of security,” said the DPAR, adding that various departments, boards and corporations had requested the issuance of passes.

Besides journalists, yellow cards valid from six months to a year would be given to technical maintenance personnel, outsourced cleaning staff, contractors of the public works department, newspaper/magazine vendors, officials on deputation at the Secretariat and non-profits. Green cards with a five-year validity will be issued to retired Secretariat staff.

Travel agents who want to deliver air tickets to ministers and senior officials will be allowed entry without a pass only if the police are informed in advance.

Other categories of visitors - employees of the government or state-run undertakings - will need to show identity cards issued to them by the “competent authority” which in most cases means their parent departments.

While Karnataka has capped the number of journalists with access to the Secretariat, the Nirmala Sitharaman-led Finance Ministry recently decided not to allow journalists, even those with Press Information Bureau accreditation, to enter the North Block premises without a prior appointment.