Onam thanksgiving for migrants

August 24, 2012

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Kasargod, August 24: At a time when people from the northeast have been fleeing cities like Pune, Bangalore and Chennai fearing reprisal over violence against Muslims in Assam, the Kerala government has taken a reassuring decision to thank migrants in a unique way, coinciding with the festival of Onam.

Kerala Chief Minister Oommen Chandy has directed the state's labour department to distribute on Saturday what he calls an "Onam Kit" for free to every migrant worker, containing various food articles, in a gesture not just to assure them they were safe in his state, but also to thank them for their contributions.

"All migrants are our brothers and sisters. We have given a clear message that every migrant worker is safe in Kerala. We have also not allowed miscreants or anti-social element to create trouble for these people," Chandy said.

"Kerala needs their services in agriculture, construction, tourism, hotels and IT. So, as a gesture of goodwill, we have decided we will distribute Onam kits to all of them on Sturday. It will have everything for a good meal like rice, oil and sugar," Chandy told IANS here.

The move also comes just ahead of a global conclave called "Emerging Kerala" to be hosted in Kochi next month by the government to showcase the state as an investment destination with much potential during which officials want to remove the wrong perception about labour issues.

According to the chief minister, each Onam kit will cost the state exchequer around Rs.150 since the articles are being bought in bulk. Otherwise, it can cost around Rs.225-Rs.250 in the open market. Around Rs.10 crore has been already sanctioned for the scheme, which can serve 800,000 people.

Onam is Kerala's main festival, celebrated by all communities, marking the triumph of Lord Vishnu, who took the form of a short Brahmin, Vamana, to tame the ego and might of king Mahabali, who was otherwise loved by his subjects. Onam marks the yearly sojourn of Mahabali to the state.

Going beyond the Onam kit, Chief Minister Chandy said he has also asked the labour department to examine how the migrant workers to Kerala can also be given access to welfare schemes that are otherwise available to ordinary residents.

He said officers of the labour department are also being periodically sent to inspect the living conditions of migrant labourers, whom Kerala sees as important contributors to the state's growth and prosperity.

"During these inspections, there were some complaints like rooms are very small, the sanitation is poor, quality of food is not good and things like that on living conditions. We have taken action wherever required and these people are very happy," Chandy said.

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News Network
September 15,2020

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Bengaluru, Sep 15: Close on the heels of the Union government allowing the states to borrow up to five per cent of the state's GDP, the cabinet on Tuesday approved the decision to amend the Karnataka Fiscal Responsibility Act in order to borrow an additional Rs 33,000 crore in this fiscal year.

The proposed amendment will enable the Karnataka government to increase the borrowing limit from the present three per cent to five per cent of the GSDP (gross state domestic product), which can go up to Rs 36,000 crore. Recently, the Union Finance Minister had allowed this as a one-time measure for all the states in the country. Karnataka is one of the early states to take this route to mop-up revenues to meet its needs.

 Speaking to reporters after the cabinet meeting here, Karnataka Law and Parliamentary affairs minister, J. C. Madhuswamy said that the state will also sell "B-Kharab" land (wasteland) existing within the periphery of 18 kms in and around Bengaluru at four times the present guidance value.

He added that everyone knows the truth behind why the state government had to opt for this route. "Due to the pandemic, we are helpless, we need money to kickstart various projects. Therefore, the state cabinet has approved to amend the Karnataka Fiscal Responsibility Act, which will allow us to borrow up to Rs 36,000 crore but at present we have decided to use it to the tune of Rs 33,000 crore," he explained.

According to him, all these years, whenever such borrowings were undertaken, it was used only for capital investment purposes, but for the first time the state has decided to utilise it for expenditure purposes also.

Generally, in government parlance, capital investment is considered to be an investment in development projects or to introduce welfare programmes, while expenditure is deemed as payment of salary and other day-to-day expenses incurred by the government.

Across the state, sporadic protests in the recent past by doctors, teachers, guest lecturers and others over the delay in their salaries was also another reason why the Karnataka government has opted for this route, a senior bureaucrat told IANS.

The minister added that the state government had not forgone its demand to the tune of Rs 11,000 crore GST share from the Union government. "We will relentlessly pursue to recover this share from the Union government. We have not forgone our claim on this. Like all other states, we will also continue to demand from the Union government to release our share," he added.

Responding to a question about the government's decision to auction the Kharab land in Bengaluru, the Law Minister added that whenever the state government allots land, sometimes, that land will also contain Kharab land, for which the government would not have recovered the cost.

"But now within Bengaluru, the land prices have shot up to an unprecedented level that even this Kharab land fetches a good value for realtors. Therefore, the state government will recover the cost from them to legalise it in their favour. Most of the Kharab land is used to build housing or commercial complexes. Hence, the state is now planning to charge four times the present guidance value in such cases," he explained.

According to the Minister, Karnataka will also renew the mining lease that was awarded to the National Minerals Development Corporation in Bellary, where they have been operating for the last several years. "With the renewal of mining lease to the NMDC, the state is expected to mop-up to the tune of Rs 650 crore annually," he said.

Answering to another question, Madhuswami asserted that there was no proposal before the state government to divide Bengaluru city into three or four municipalities, but there was a proposal of dividing Bengaluru into four zones. "Bengaluru will be divided into four zones. To effect this change, the state government is planning to introduce a new Act exclusively in the forthcoming Legislature session," he said.

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News Network
September 25,2020

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Bengaluru, Sept 25: Tata Coffee has reportedly started negotiations to acquire 12,000 hectares of coffee plantations belonging to Cafe Coffee Day founder V G Siddhartha for Rs 1,200-1,500 crore.

Coffee Day's operations, including personal assets and coffee plantations, is currently being handled by Siddhartha's wife, Malavika Hedge, after he died by suicide last year in August amid allegations that he faced pressure from lenders, a private equity firm and harassed by tax officials.

This development comes on the heels of Tata Consumer Products (TCP) approving an exploration of acquisition of Cafe Coffee Day's vending machine business. CCD is looking for a valuation of about Rs 2,000 crore for the same, a Bloomberg report said.

Siddhartha is believed to have availed loans worth Rs 2,000 from banks like HSBC, Rabo Bank, Lakshmi Vilas Bank, RBL and IndusInd Bank. Some of the lenders have already initiated recovery proceedings against the plantation assests last November.

"Discussions between Tata Coffee and Hedge started in February but were put on hold because of Covid," a source told the publication. "Talks have resumed, though the deal may be in preliminary stages," he added.

A family representative, however, told that the information is speculative and is to be treated as baseless rumours. The representative further stated that none of the lenders have invoked recovery procedings on plantation assets.

Apart from the coffeee plantations, Siddhartha also owned silver oak and timber plantations priced at about Rs 2,000 crore. His personal assets included The Serai Resorts, a luxury hospitality resorts.

Tata group has completed the restructuring of the consumer business and TCP’s joint venture with Starbucks progressing well. Deliberations to acquire the plantations are largely with the view of scaling up Tata Coffee’s land base. TCP holds 57.48 per cent stake in Tata Coffee.

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News Network
September 15,2020

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Bengaluru, Sept 15: With 8,865 persons getting discharged on Monday, recoveries outnumbered 8,244 new Covid cases across Karnataka, while 119 succumbed to the dreaded virus in the last 24 hours.

"With 8,244 new cases, the state's Covid tally rose to 4,67,689, including 98,463 active cases, while 3,61,823 persons have been discharged till date, including 8,865 during the day," the state health department bulletin said.

With 119 deaths in the last 24 hours, the state's toll has risen to 7,384 since March 9, when the pandemic broke out.

Bengaluru Urban, which is the epicentre of coronavirus in the southern state, reported 2,966 fresh cases, taking its tally to 1,73,628, including 40,527 active cases, and 1,30,627 discharges. With 37 fatalities during the day in the city, its death toll rose to 2.473.

Among other districts, Mysuru reported 677 new cases, followed by Dakshina Kannada (413), Davangere (325), Hassan (295), Bengaluru Rural (275) and Ballari (264).

Belagavi recorded 533 discharges, the highest among the districts, followed by Hassan (332), Dakshina Kannada (297), Shivamogga (282), Ballari (274) and Dharwad (248).

"About 800 Covid patients are in the ICU across the state, including 263 in Bengaluru Urban district, 106 in Hassan, 67 in Dharwad, 44 in Ballari and 40 in Kalaburagi," said the bulletin.

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