Karnataka puts on hold decision to sell 3,667 acres to JSW Steel

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Bengaluru, May 27 (PTI) Amid opposition from within the ruling BJP and cases pending in courts, the Karnataka cabinet on Thursday put on hold its earlier decision to sell 3,667 acres of land to the JSW Steel in Ballari district.

'The previous cabinet's decision to give land to Jindal has not been confirmed in today's cabinet meeting, so the previous decision on this matter will be on hold,' Law and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Basavaraj Bommai said.

Speaking to reporters after the cabinet meeting here, he said, with this decision the previous cabinet decision will not be implemented.

'Lot of cases are there, there is appeal in the Supreme Court, there is a PIL in high court based on which notices have been issued. After looking into all these things, we will take a decision in the days to come,' he said.

The earlier cabinet meeting on April 26, presided over by Chief Minister B S Yediyurappa, had agreed to sell 3,667 acres to JSW Steel Ltd in Ballari.

The BJP while in opposition had opposed a similar move and had even staged protests against the then government's decision.

The Congress-JD(S) coalition cabinet in 2019 had decided to convert the lease of 3,667 acres to JSW Steel into sale, in accordance with the initial agreement.

However, amid a row over the decision that drew opposition from various quarters, including the BJP (then in opposition) and within, the Congress-JD(S) coalition cabinet once again discussed the issue and decided to refer it to a cabinet sub-committee.

Accusing the Congress-JD(S) coalition government of selling the land to the company at a throwaway price (Rs 1.22 -1.50 lakh per acre), the BJP, then in opposition, had held a two-day round-the-clock sit-in.

Yediyurappa, who was then a state BJP president, had even accused the ruling Congress-JD(S) coalition of getting 'kickbacks' for the sale of land.

After the BJP came to power, the issue was again referred to a cabinet sub-committee headed by Industries Minister Jagadish Shettar, which recommended the government to execute the sale deed.

Today's cabinet decision comes after at least four BJP legislators-Basanagouda Patil Yatnal, Arvind Bellad, K Poornima and Uday Garudachar- wrote to the Chief Minister earlier this month urging him to rollback the governments decision.

They had termed the decision against the interest of the state, and contrary to the BJPs fight against corruption. In 2005, the then government had decided to give on lease-cum-sale arrangement 2,000.58 acres to JSW.

An order on this was issued by the JD(S)-BJP coalition government that came to power thereafter when Kumaraswamy was chief minister and B S Yeddyurappa was industries minister.

In 2007, another 1,666 acres were allotted.

The cabinet has also given its approval for bringing amendments to the Karnataka Electric Vehicle & Energy Storage Policy-2017.

Bommai said the amendments are being brought in to give more concessions to industries like 15 per cent capital subsidy on fixed assets in five equal annual instalments.

Maximum up to 50 acres of land has been limited for fixed assets.

On COVID, the Minister said with cases rising among children, all government hospitals should set up special wards and ICU should be set up at pediatric wards, and the CM has agreed to it.

He said another issue that was discussed was enhancing procurement of drugs for black fungus, with increase in cases.PTI KSU BN BALA BN BALA