Suvarna Soudha a mere showpiece and not a catalyst for development

The Suvarna Vidhana Soudha in Belagavi, which has been hosting the winter session of the Karnataka Assembly since 2012, was primarily meant to assert the rights of the state over the disputed border region.

It may have served as a stately symbol built at a cost of Rs 500 crore, but it has not done anything to get the wheels of development moving in northern Karnataka, which continues to be the backward child of an otherwise prosperous state.

The Karnataka government has been holding the winter sessions of the state legislature at the Suvarna Soudha since 2012. And Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai’s government held the session even when Covid-19 was raging last year to show its commitment to Belagavi and north Karnataka.

Later this month, the winter session will be held between December 19 and December 29 at an estimated cost Rs 37 crore. This time the state government is making massive security arrangements for the session and more than 4,000 police personnel are to be deputed in the backdrop of the border row.

When the idea of the Suvarna Soudha was mooted, it was appreciated by all. The expenditure incurred on maintaining the venue for holding just one session in a year, however, has been questioned. Many a times the building is described as a white elephant. The name of the building, incidentally, commemorates the golden jubilee of state’s formation.

The late former President Pranab Mukharjee inaugurated the Suvarna Soudha on October 11, 2011. The construction had started in 2007. Then BJP-JD(S) coalition government headed by H.D. Kumaraswamy, with B.S. Yediyurappa as his deputy, took it up on a priority basis and got the project completed within a short time.

The Suvarna Soudha complex is spread across 127 acres. The state has spent about Rs 500 crore for the building and the inauguration ceremony cost another Rs 15 crore.

It was once proposed that departments overseeing north Karnataka-specific projects be shifted to Belagavi. And a few secretary-level offices and government departments also be shifted to the Suvarna Soudha. The bureaucracy, however, has made sure the state government turns a deaf ear to the demand. Politicians in north Karnataka, too, prefer the comfort of metro city Bengaluru.

Annually, the government spends about Rs 5 crore to maintain the Suvarna Soudha. The Yediyurappa-led government in 2020 passed an order to shift nine secretary-level offices to Belagavi. It remained on paper.

Kannada activists are urging the government to shift at least the Border Protection Commission here.

H.K. Patil was the last minister in-charge for the border between 2015 to 2018.

Since then, no appointment has been made to safeguard the interests of the fragile border district.

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