Saturday, May 28, 2005

Red tape holds up Bangalore flower auction project

Red tape holds up Bangalore flower auction project
The Economic Times

BANGALORE: For all the pro-farmer talk by the coalition government in Karnataka, the bureaucracy is virtually holding up progress of the prestigious International Flower Auction Bangalore project. The land for the Rs 9-crore worth project conceived five years ago has still not been allocated.

The land belonging to the now-defunct Karnataka Agro Industries Corporation was supposed to be the state government’s contribution to the project. However, with the corporation no longer in the picture, it is up to the Karnataka government to ensure that the necessary legal procedure is completed.

The delay in securing the land means the proposed flower auction project is unlikely to be inaugurated by July 1 when the Garden City will host “FloraExpo-’05”, a three-day international exhibition and conference positioned as south Asia’s floriculture trade show.

“The state Cabinet nod can only come if the finance department okays the proposal put forward by the horticulture department and there is no sign of this happening,” sources said. The bureaucratic inaction has meant delay in the release of funds under the central government’s Assistance to States for Infrastructure Development and Allied Activities programme.

The fund assistance is essential for financing the purchase of an electronic clock needed to follow the Dutch auction count-down model.

In the Dutch auction model for perishable commodities like flowers, the price of the produce falls as time lapses. Unfortunately, continued delay in setting up the flower auction centre could see the project-cost escalating. Construction of the building and other infrastructure commenced on the assumption that the land transfer was a mere formality.

However, the equation changed when the state government decided to liquidate the corporation. Sources say corporation’s location — near the busy Hebbal flyover which is enroute to the international airport project at Devanahalli — has attracted land-grabbers’ attention.

The state government realised the critical importance of the IFAB project only when the Union commerce ministry threatened to pull out of the venture some months ago. Despite the assurances given at that time, the state bureaucratic delays continue as if to prove the truth of the adage that old habits die hard.


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