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Gowda wants jobs for land providers; slams IT cos' `negative impression'

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"I am not going to minimise the contribution of the IT industry. I am not jealous about your earnings."

AT THE IT SHOW: The Karnataka Chief Minister, Mr N. Dharam Singh; the Australian IT Minister, Ms Helen Coonan; former Prime Minister, Mr H.D. Deve Gowda, and the Karnataka Governor, Mr T.N. Chaturvedi, at the inaugural function of 2005 on Wednesday. - G.R.N. Somashekar

Bangalore , Oct. 26

FORMER Prime Minister and the head of Janata Dal (Secular), Mr H.D. Deve Gowda, called upon industry on Wednesday to ensure jobs for those who give up their lands for development.

Mr Gowda was speaking at the inaugural function of the eighth edition of 2005. "Those who are thrown out of their lands should be given job opportunities; they cannot be allowed to suffer and go begging for food," he said.

About 270 companies, 18 countries and 20 States are participating in 2005, which took off on a subdued note as heavy rains have affected normal life in the city for the past few days.

Not against the sector: Stating that he did not care about how IT companies functioned, Mr Gowda said that he was keen on ensuring accountability on the land allotted to them. "I am not going to minimise the contribution of the IT industry. I am not jealous about your earnings. I am not bothered (about that)," Mr Gowda said, maintaining that he was not against the IT sector. He noted that it was when he was at the helm of affairs that IT industry was given a 10-year tax holiday.

Criticising the IT industry for creating a "negative impression" that the coalition Government was not giving much importance and priority for solving infrastructure problems, Mr Gowda said that if the industry had any problems it should discuss with the Chief Minister. He also called upon the Karnataka Chief Minister, Mr N. Dharam Singh, to take firm decisions.

Reducing poverty the key: Pledging the Government's support to IT and other industries with regard to basic infrastructure for attracting investments, Mr Gowda, however, ruled out any "hanky-panky" in clearing projects involving private investments in the State. "Karnataka is a pioneering State in attracting private investments. We will not allow the IT industry or any other industry to suffer. I know my responsibility. The country has to grow. We must reduce poverty. Unless we create wealth, we cannot reduce poverty," he said.

Mr Gowda suggested that IT companies should look at other cities in the State to start and expand their operations. "Bangalore has grown enough. We want to decongest Bangalore," he said.

Infrastructure: Mr Dharam Singh, maintained that his Government was doing its utmost to improve the infrastructure in Bangalore.

The work of Bangalore International Airport was in full swing and would be thrown open for passenger traffic by April 2008. "We have given clearances for the Bangalore Metro Rail and it is now awaiting the Union Cabinet approval," he added.

The British High Commissioner to India, Sir Michael Arthur, said the partnership between Bangalore and his country was getting stronger each year. Britain is participating for the seventh year in a row in the IT event.

The UK is keen on expanding and consolidating its economic and business ties, Sir Michael said, adding that the country expects to issue four lakh multiple entry visas for Indian nationals this year, a growth of almost 25 per cent.

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