Sunday, July 29, 2007

Does Government cares for Belgaum

Concern over delay in holding IT Investors’ meet in Belgaum

From The Hindu 30 July 2007

IT Department for clubbing event with world Kannada meet

Belgaum: The delay in organising the exclusive IT Investors’ Meet in Belgaum has become a cause of concern for businessmen in particular and people of the district in general.

The decision to organise the event in Belgaum, which is being projected as the most favoured destination for future investment after Bangalore and Mysore in the State, was taken soon after the General Investors’ Meet here on March 8. The event then witnessed registration of investment proposals worth Rs. 810 crore from 108 companies in the State and from Maharashtra. These proposals projected employment opportunities to 12,000 people. The number of proposals went up to 156 with more companies registering themselves for launching their operations here.

Sources told The Hindu here on Sunday that the proposed IT Investors’ Meet was being delayed by the Department of Information Technology, Bangalore, as it favoured clubbing the event with the Vishwa Kannada Sammelan (world Kan nada meet) to be held here.

Though Minister for Kannada and Culture H.S. Mahadev Prasad had announced to hold the sammelan in Belgaum in the last week of September, a final decision on the date was yet to be taken. Once the date was finalised, the IT Department could decide on holding the investors’ meet, the sources said.

But people are apprehensive of the Government organising the sammelan in September when the coalition partners will be preoccupied with “transfer of power”.

Therefore, the IT Department should go ahead with the proposed IT investors’ meet instead of keeping the prospective investors waiting. Such an attitude would only send a wrong signal to investors and they might move away to Pune and Hyderabad, the sources said.

A senior official in the Department of Commerce and Industries said that the IT Department was keen on developing an IT Park in Belgaum and holding the investors’ meet at the earliest.

The Government had invited tenders to develop the park on 40 acres of land through the Karnataka State Small-Scale Industries Development Corporation. Though the initial response was not encouraging, there was still a month for submitting tenders. Some construction companies had visited the proposed site and many were in touch with the DIC. The IT Department would develop 109 acres of land more, the sources said.

The sources said the location of IT Park at Vaghwade was inconvenient as it was about 25 km from the Sambra airport. It would take about an hour to fly from Bangalore or Mumbai to Belgaum and almost the same time to reach the proposed IT park in the city. However, it would be convenient if the park was located near the airport, they added.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Good Bye Sir APJ The ultimate President

“When you wish upon a star, Makes no difference who you are, Anything your heart desires, Will come to you,” outgoing President A P J Abdul Kalam quoted the poem and wanted youth to aim big.

I salute our outgoing President APJ Abdul Kalam I wish I would have been a student at Anna university as he will be teaching there soon, very rare are distinguished person like him are born.

He will be ever remembered as People's Presidents even though being a Space Scientist and Aviation Engineer with his height of humbleness and simplicity I hope our shameless politicians learn something from him about how to serve the Nation.

Jai Hind

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Belgaum : New vaccine Research Centre and Manufacturing base

BELGAUM: As expected, the Vaccine Depot at Tilakwadi in the city has been selected to establish the proposed Vaccine Manufacturing and Research Centre (VMRC).

The Belgaum VMRC will be the first in North Karnataka region and the second in the State. The centre will come up at an estimated cost of Rs 16 crore.

Vaccine for various animal-related diseases, including rabies would be manufactured and it will be a research centre.

Monday, July 9, 2007

Mr MN Vidyashankar (IAS) IT Secretary of Karnataka

MN Vidyashankar took over as the IT Secretary of Karnataka in October 2006. Besides IT, Vidyashankar also holds the post of Secretary for Biotechnology, and Science and Technology. While at Bangalore Development Authority, he was instrumental in implanting the e-Pragathi project aimed at creating multi-utility kiosks across the city for the payment of utility bills. Vidyashankar talks to Sudesh Prasad of Dataquest about the ensuing IT policy and some of the new projects in pipeline, to expand IT beyond Bangalore.

What is the status of the new IT policy of Karnataka?
The vision group is deliberating on it and in our next meeting, we will give a final shape to it. The reason for delay was that there were lot of inputs that came from various stakeholders, and various departments which were in the process of computerization. All the information that we have got is being collated and it should be ready by March end.

What are some of the challenges Karnataka is facing in terms of IT?
The main problem we are facing is that everything is Bangalore-centric. We want to see that the new policy focuses equally on the proliferation of IT to other cities and towns beyond Bangalore. We are in the process of awarding tender for the development of the Bidadi Township for the IT industry which will be one of the largest townships in the country-an area of 10,000 acres, with 25,000 acres of built up space. We have received requests from about 32 developers from India and abroad of which 24 have been short-listed. The Infrastructure Development Corporation of Karnataka is technically scrutinizing these. Then the financial bids will be done and an announcement of final bidders will be made soon after; handing over of the land will take place by April end. Only one developer will be given the entire space, and work will be completed in 18 months in two phases.

'When we were planning Bidadi, we made it a point that it should not be an infrastructure for just plug and play, so we created the model of PPL-plug, play, live and learn. So any IT company which is taking space here should necessarily take space for accommodation of its employees'
How different is the Bidadi project?
When we were planning Bidadi, we made it a point that it should not be an infrastructure for just plug and play, so we created the model of PPL-plug, play, live and learn. So any IT company which is taking space here should necessarily take space for accommodation of its employees. That is a precondition because we don't want to clog Bangalore. There will be schools, colleges, hospitals and other facilities in this township.

Which were some of the e-Governance projects you were involved with?
In my earlier capacities I did more IT work than my primary responsibilities. When I was with the Bangalore Development Authority, I had initiated a project called at e-Pragathi, which was a multipurpose 24x7 Kaveri kiosk meant to accept utility bills including electricity, water and telephone bills. We have 75 of them in the Banglaore city today. We did a pilot project for this with three companies. For the first time we got customer reactions to the pilot project and after we were fully convinced, we went ahead and gave the project to an IT company. This model has now been taken up by one of the airlines for their check-in facility.

How is the IT department working with the Karnataka government to improve the physical infrastructure of the state?
There is a sub group on Bangalore infrastructure comprising 4 persons, including me. We meet once every two-weeks. We actually go out with the executing agencies and inspect the sites. Most of the work on roads in and around the electronic city, are going to be completed by the end of April 2007. The rest will be over by the end of May 2007. Each of the schedules are on the website of the concerned department and on our website, so that anybody can see it.

How are the other cities of Karnataka shaping up?
Mysore is doing good. Hubli is also shaping up in a big way. There is a huge IT park, and we have created 2.75 lakh square km of office space. We are ready to distribute about 160 acres of land to IT companies in Belgaum. Belgaum is strategically located, it is 75 km from Goa which has a port and an international airport. We are also holding an IT Investors' meet in Belgaum in April to attract investment.
Chennai has marched ahead of Bangalore in attracting telecom manufacturing companies. Your comments?
Each city has a strong point. The new semiconductor policy that was announced will go a long way in making Bangalore the semiconductor hub of the world. The variety of companies that Bangalore has attracted is incomparable.

What is the Karnataka government's vision for IT?
During 2007-2008, we intend to have 10 IT and BPO units outside of Bangalore, not necessarily district headquarters. We are concentrating on Tumkur, Hasan, Shimoga, and two others. The only criterion was that there should be a good supply of quality manpower. All these places have very good supply of graduates. RIIT is being set up in Mysore and would be the first IT-finishing schools in India.

Any new initiatives?
All our departments within the IT department will go paperless from May 2007. All documents will be digitized and will be digitally signed. Even file notings would be done digitally.

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Belgaum should have its own Power commision

Belgaum should have its own power supply company unlike HESCOM , GESCOM or MESCOM , it is very well understood the power outage is nothing new in Belgaum as we need to depend on HESCOM which is based at Hubli and they would certainly keep more interest for Hubli-Dharwd districts, unfortunately we Belgaumites are loosing our industries to near by state or to other district. Belgaum is much on self development move but power and water is necessary, the 110KW sub station is still at large the district representatives need to take more interest to solve this problem, Belgaum has high potential to be develop from a cosmopolitant to megapolitant city.

"Narendra Markumbi" Proud Belgaumite

India is changing and farmers are part of this change, today we only read suicides stories of farmer, but here is something encouraging for framers the man behind them is Mr Narendra Markumbi , I have a fade glimpse of meeting him in Belgaum when I was studying at CMS institute and attended a call at Markumbi Bioagro camp office with Mr Sunil Uppin (Frontline Automation) for system repair somewhare in 1996.

The Fortune in The Farms

This is a rags-to-riches story with a twist. Narendra Murkumbi became a billionaire all right. But he also created wealth for thousands of cane farmers .
M. Anand & Nelson Vinod Moses

Shindogi, in the Belgaum district of Karnataka, is like any other Indian village. Most of the inhabitants are farmers. Here they grow sugarcane and their incomes rise and fall with crop prices. It is the last place one would expect people to track stock prices. But they do. Through the pages of Kannada daily Usha Kiran, they keep a close watch on the fortunes of Shree Renuka Sugars (SRS). After all, 9,900 farmers in the region own the stock and their combined shareholding is worth around Rs 350 crore. “When we see the share price, we are happy because this is more than we expected even in our dreams,” says Gurappa Sidappa Kanapanaure, one of the farmer investors.

The farmers had bought the stock at face value. A Rs 5,000 investment in the late 1990s was worth Rs 7.61 lakh on 31 March 2006. Each investor holds at least 500 shares, with some, like Raiappa Mallapa Shetty, holding as many as 2,500. His holding was worth Rs 3.8 lakh on 31 March 2006.

When SRS listed on the BSE in October 2005, one of the farmers rang the customary bell to kick off trading in the stock. On that day, the combined wealth of these farmers was Rs 129 crore. By April 2006, that number had grown to Rs 811 crore. That growth of wealth (the farmers had invested less than Rs 5 crore) is now very much a part of the Shindogi folklore.

The tale would not have been told, but for Narendra Murkumbi, the managing director of Shree Renuka Sugars. He was born in Belgaum, not too far from Shindogi. His father was a distributor for Tata Tea and Tata Chemicals. With him, Murkumbi travelled a lot. He saw the tea gardens of Assam and the wheat fields of Punjab. In 1994, when he graduated from IIM, Ahmedabad, he wanted to start his own agri-business. He dabbled in bio-pesticides, but soon his interest shifted to sugar.

Having lived in Belgaum for most of his life, Murkumbi was familiar with the business. But he did not have the Rs 100 crore needed to set up a mill. At that time, the Andhra Pradesh (AP) government was selling a sugar unit for Rs 55 crore. He wanted to buy it and bring it to Belgaum, which grew lots of high-yield cane. But he did not have the cash to do even that.

With great difficulty, he convinced IDBI to lend up to 60 per cent of that cost. He also got the Sugar Development Fund to contribute another 15 per cent of the project cost as equity. He then went about raising the remaining 25 per cent. But, after exhausting his options, he was still about Rs 5 crore short. He recalls: “Then, the stockmarket was indifferent to the sugar industry. So an IPO was ruled out.” That’s when he turned to the farmers.

Says Murkumbi: “They were used to a culture of investing because of the co-operative mills. Though our model was different, we figured it could work.” His mother, Vidya Murkumbi, chairperson of SRS, visited 80 villages to talk to the farmers. Her pitch was simple. There was oversupply of sugarcane in the district. Farmers were travelling 60-70 km to sell their produce in Raibaga. There were payment delays and defaults. By setting up a plant in Belgaum, SRS would step up cane offtake and make prompt payments. In return, each farmer would have to buy at least 500 SRS shares at Rs 10 each. Not everyone was convinced. Most invested only after they saw the mill coming up. In the end, 9,900 farmers bought the story and the stock — the latter, in many cases, with borrowed money. That was SRS’ defining moment.

Since then, Murkumbi has turned the company into a fully integrated sugar maker with power generation and refining capacities. It has also become a major merchant exporter of sugar and is setting up a 2,000 tonnes per day sugar refinery in Haldia — the largest in India — primarily for exports.

SRS’ growth (in the last three years, sales have grown from Rs 152.34 crore to Rs 673 crore, and net profit from Rs 2.36 crore to Rs 40.73 crore) has attracted investors. Foreign investors, like Carlson Fund, have bought 12 per cent of SRS and the company’s market cap is among the highest in the sector.

Now, the Murkumbis’ 46.87 per cent stake in SRS is worth about Rs 1,698 crore. But that hasn’t changed their lifestyle much. Vidya still lives in Belgaum, Narendra in rented quarters in Worli Seaface, Mumbai. He was trying to buy a flat in south Mumbai, but settled for one in Prabhadevi instead. “Prices are much too high,” he says. He is distinctly uncomfortable talking about his wealth. “I look at my stock prices every day, but I am not the kind who will sit with a spreadsheet trying to figure out my wealth,” he says. In fact, it took a lot of persuasion to get Murkumbi to meet for this story on billionaires. He relented on the condition that the interview would largely revolve around the wealth of the farmers, not his. “SRS now buys over Rs 2 crore worth of cane every day from 50,000 farmers,” he says, proud of his contribution.

That has changed Shindogi. Now, the crop is sugarcane all the way. Hardly anything else is grown any more. Take Raiappa Mallappa Kalti. In 2000, he used to ride a bicycle, grow maize on his 40 acres and make about Rs 1 lakh a year, which barely covered his farm and family expenses. After the SRS plant came up, he switched to sugarcane. He sells his crop to SRS and is paid within 15 days. Says Kalti: “I drive a Tata Indica now, have increased my holdings to 100 acres and make Rs 20 lakh-30 lakh an acre.”

To farmers in these parts, Vidya is “more than the mother who gave birth to us”. SRS has helped them with better seeds, fertilisers and loans at the initial stages. It has also bettered their farming methods and monitored cane quality. Says Shetty: “We were taken to training programmes in Coimbatore, where we learned how to increase the yield. Five years back, we used to get 30-40 tonnes per acre. Now we get 50-60 tonnes per acre, sometimes even 70.”

The farmers, however, have been careful with their new found wealth. No flashy cars or clothes for them. Most have used the money to increase their land holdings, build bigger houses, educate their children (even send them abroad) and buy better irrigation systems. They say that if they knew that the shares would be worth this much today, they would have bought more of them. Now they joke about what they could buy if they sell their stock. Says Shetty: “Four of us have cars, now we are thinking of buying an aeroplane.”

courtesy Businessworld dated Sep 2 2006

Monday, July 2, 2007

Belgaum Air Timings

Belgaum to host IT investors' meet

The Hindu Online edition of India's National Newspaper
Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Belgaum to host IT investors' meet

Staff Correspondent

Entrepreneurs from Bangalore, Hyderabad and Pune to be invited


Preparations on, but date is yet to be finalised
New sites identified for IT and Apparel Parks, SEZs

Belgaum: In an effort to boost industrial development in this border district, which is being projected as the second major industrial destination after Bangalore, the Government has decided to convene an investors' meet exclusively for the information technology (IT) sector.

Highly placed sources told The Hindu here on Tuesday that at least 100 prospective investors and entrepreneurs from the three major IT cities — Bangalore, Hyderabad and Pune — would be invited to participate in the meet. The District Industries Centre (DIC) has started making preparations for the meet, but date is yet to be finalised.

The investors' meet held here on March 8 brought investment proposals worth Rs. 810 crore from 108 firms, promising employment opportunities to 12,000 people. More proposals followed, taking the total to 156. Of these, 106 firms have shown interest in going ahead with their proposals, but have been held back owing to constrains at the two major industrial areas in Udyambag and Autonagar. The DIC has identified new localities on the outskirts of Belgaum city for an IT Park, an Apparel Park, a general Special Economic Zone (SEZ), two SEZs for the sugar and engineering sectors, and other major industries.

According to Minister for Horticulture and district in-charge Shashikant A. Naik, 169 acres and 32 guntas in Survey No. 152 adjacent to Visvesvaraya Technological University has been identified for the IT Park. An area of 5 acres and 17 guntas has been earmarked to set up an earth station to facilitate high-speed Internet/wireless communication facilities for the IT Park.

Another 69 acres and 32 guntas of land has been identified for the Apparel Park, close to the IT Park. Sources said that a group of entrepreneurs engaged in the powerloom/textile manufacturing sector in Belgaum had floated a Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) to develop the Apparel Park.

Mr. Naik said 3,000 acres had been identified in Hukkeri taluk for the establishment of an SEZ.

5,000 acres of land marked for SEZ

5,000 acres of land marked for SEZ
15 Sep, 2006 l 2306 hrs ISTlTIMES NEWS NETWORK

BELGAUM: The district administration has identified 5,000 acres of land near Kakati village on the national highway to establish a special economic zone. The project, after approval, would generate employment for 1.5 lakh people.

Chief minister H D Kumaraswamy has already assured that the project will get approval, MLA Abhay Patil told reporters here on Friday.

Patil said the proposal has been prepared by the administration and the identified land belongs to the forest department, but is not reserved forest.

Land from Ramdurg and Saundatti taluks would be allotted to the forest department and its land here would be acquired for the SEZ.

Two companies from Delhi have evinced interest in investing in the proposed SEZ. Kumaraswamy has been asked to give tax and power concessions for the companies investing in the SEZ, and hold a meet of investors in Belgaum.

To this, the CM has given his nod during discussions with office-bearers of the Belgaum Chamber of Commerce, he said.

A proposal has also been sent to the government to establish a truck terminal and Autonagar near Honga, on the national highway.

The present Autonagar scheme failed as it is away from the highway, and garages have refused to move there, Patil said.

He also said that land to create infrastructure for Vidhana Soudha here has been identified and the acquisition process will begin soon.

The chief minister, during the assembly session here, is expected to lay the foundation stone for the proposed Vidhana Soudha, ring road and international-level cricket stadium, he said.