Karnataka government moves to take powers from poll body.

The Basvaraj Bommai-led Karnataka government on Tuesday moved to appoint a commission for the exercise of delimitation of wards and other segments or rural panchayats that undercuts the state election commission.

The Karnataka Gram Swaraj and Panchayat Raj (Amendment) Bill, that was tabled during the ongoing monsoon session on Tuesday, seeks to transfer the powers of setting up a delimitation commission to the government from the state election commission. The tabling of the bill comes at a time when all three political parties are gearing up to face the zila and taluka panchayat polls, expected to be held later this year.

The polls will help political parties gauge the mood of the grassroots ahead of the 2023 assembly elections. And, according to people aware of the matter, the bill is suspected as a play by the government to advance the polls.

The government also tabled the prisoners’ Identification (Karnataka Amendment) bill which makes provisions for authorities to collect blood, DNA, voice and retina samples of prisoners to monitor repeat offenders.

The first installment of supplementary estimates aggregating to 10.625 crore for the current fiscal, including 2,858 crore for the Rural Development and Panchayat Raj department and 1,700 crore for food and civil supplies were also tabled.

The Bommai-led government, meanwhile, faced a tough day during the session with the Opposition and some of its own legislators seeking responses on various civic, irrigation and other development works that have been promised, but are yet to be implemented.

Bommai acknowledged that there were delays in installing LED streetlights in Bengaluru, which has created “dark spots”.

The project to replace street lights with LED was approved in 2019 and the works were entrusted to BSPL, a consortium of Shapoorji Pallonji, SMC Infrastructure and Samudra Electronics Systems, under a public-private partnership, PTI reported.

“This issue came up when I reviewed projects relating to Bengaluru after taking over as the Chief Minister. I had clearly said during the review that there is a delay in starting the work, it has to start immediately. They (company) have said the project will be completed in five phases, and it is decided that by December 31, three lakh LED bulbs have to be installed,” he said.

The contract states that 485,000 street lights in the city’s municipal area are to be replaced over five phases and in around 30 months.

Even Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) legislators backed senior Congress leader Ramalinga Reddy, who said that no MLA in the city has received grants for street lights in three years. “I have asked officials to take up all five phases at once immediately… I will also instruct BBMP to do repairs and maintenance of existing streetlights,” CM said.

Source- Hindustan Times.

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