The political tug-of-war between Karnataka governor HR Bhardwaj and chief minister BS Yeddyurappa has brought to the fore, once again, the huge price Bangalore ends up paying for political instability in the state.
The plight of the metro rail line is an example. It has missed the deadline thrice which is proof that political pressures continue to hobble Bangalore’s growth and infrastructure development. Yeddyurappa had said the metro would be operational from April 1, 2011.
Clearly, Bangalore and the rest of Karnataka have been growing slower, attracting fewer investments. Says TV Mohandas Pai , former director, HR, Infosys Technologies: “It (political instability) has affected us and growth rates have been hurt.” In the past seven years, Karnataka had three chief ministers from different political parties, creating a situation of constant instability with lack of continuity in any industrial or investment policies.
The gross state domestic product growth rate of Karnataka has slipped well below the national gross domestic product in the past three years and many observers say investments into Karnataka are “mandatory in nature”. Only necessary investments are being made by businesses in state. For example, the IT industry in Bangalore could have added 1.5 lakh jobs last year, but only 75,000 were created. Besides, the state has lost some big-ticket investments from global corporates such as Renault, Komatsu, Daimler and Tata Motors in the past.
KR Girish, partner, KPMG and former president of Bangalore Chamber of Commerce and Industry, says many corporates are heading to neighbouring states. “This political instability has virtually brought about a breakdown in the bureaucracy and there is no bureaucrat whom the industry can approach.”
A senior bureaucrat, asking not to be named, said the “lack of moral stature of the state government” has affected the morale of the civil service. Some key infrastructure projects are also in a limbo. The Rs 7,000-crore High Speed Rail Link project linking Bangalore to the international airport is still stuck over key approvals from the Centre. The plan to start a new port in Tadadi under a public private partnership has also been delayed.
For his part, US-educated MLA Krishna Byregowda says lack of vision at the top is the biggest problem in Karnataka. “Most of the solutions are short-term and what we need is vision backed by professional planning.” Economic Times