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Karnataka Women Granted Free Bus Travel Up to 20 km in Border States, Says Siddaramaiah

Chief Minister clarified that the free travel is limited to a distance of up to 20 km inside the border states.



Karnataka Women Granted Free Bus Travel Up to 20 km in Border States, Says Siddaramaiah
Chief Minister Siddaramaiah

Bengaluru: Chief Minister Siddaramaiah, along with Deputy Chief Minister DK Shivakumar and Transport Minister Ramalinga Reddy, announced the launch of the ‘Shakti’ initiative, the first of the five poll guarantees, aimed at providing free travel in government buses for women in Karnataka. However, the Chief Minister clarified that the free travel is limited to a distance of up to 20 km inside the border states.

The scheme was inaugurated at Vidhana Soudha, Bengaluru, with the Chief Minister stating that all women in the state are entitled to travel free of cost in all state-owned buses, excluding AC and Volvo buses, including express bus services. The initiative aims to empower women by providing them with convenient and affordable transportation options.

Chief Minister Siddaramaiah emphasized that the free travel offer is applicable only within the state, and if women wish to travel by interstate buses, the service will not be free. For example, a woman traveling to Tirupati cannot avail herself of the free travel beyond Mulbagal, located on the border of Kolar district in Andhra Pradesh.

However, women traveling within 20 km inside the neighboring states will not be charged for their journey. The Chief Minister provided an example, stating that women traveling from Ballari can travel up to 20 km inside Andhra Pradesh free of cost.

The launch of the ‘Shakti’ initiative is the first among the five guarantees promised by the government. The other guarantees include the ‘Gruha Jyoti’ scheme, which offers 200 free units of electricity to domestic consumers, ‘Anna Bhagya,’ a scheme providing 10 kg of free rice or food grain to below poverty line (BPL) families, ‘Gruha Lakshmi,’ which offers a monthly financial assistance of ₹2,000 to the head woman of a household, and ‘Yuva Nidhi,’ providing unemployment allowance to graduates and diploma holders.

The Chief Minister outlined the implementation schedule for these guarantees. ‘Gruha Jyoti’ will be launched from Kalaburagi on July 1, ‘Anna Bhagya’ will be launched from Mysuru on the same day, ‘Gruha Lakshmi’ will be launched on August 16 from Belagavi, and ‘Yuva Nidhi’ will provide allowances for 24 months to eligible graduates and diploma holders who have been unable to secure employment within six months of passing their exams.

Chief Minister Siddaramaiah assured that the government will monitor the beneficiaries’ job status and take action against those making false declarations. He dismissed concerns about the state’s financial health, stating that the government is committed to fulfilling these guarantees. He criticized the opposition party, BJP, for not taking any significant action while in power and accused them of issuing empty statements.

Regarding electricity bills, the Chief Minister clarified that the Karnataka Electricity Regulatory Commission revises the electricity tariff every year, with the new rates typically implemented in June. He addressed the ‘Gruha Jyoti’ scheme, stating that availing of the free electricity is not mandatory, as individuals have the choice to opt for it or give it up based on their preferences and consumption habits.

Chief Minister Siddaramaiah emphasized that the average domestic electricity consumption in the state is 53 units, and the scheme provides additional units based on the average consumption of each household. He explained that offering 200 units of free power to everyone would lead to potential misuse, and therefore, the government aims to provide an appropriate amount based on individual needs.

The launch of these guarantees underscores the government’s commitment to empowering women, providing essential resources


Prajwal Revanna Taken To His House For Spot Inspection

SIT inspects suspended JD(S) leader Prajwal Revanna’s house amid sexual assault charges and his family’s involvement in a kidnapping case.



Prajwal Revanna Taken To His House For Spot Inspection
(File Photo: theweek)

On Saturday, a Special Investigation Team (SIT) took suspended JD(S) leader Prajwal Revanna to his house in Holenarasipura, Hassan district, for a spot inspection. Prajwal, aged 33, who had contested the Lok Sabha election as an NDA candidate from Hassan, is currently embroiled in multiple sexual assault cases.

The situation is further complicated by the involvement of Prajwal’s family in legal troubles. His father, Holenarasipura MLA H D Revanna, and mother Bhavani Revanna, are out on bail related to a kidnapping case. This case pertains to the abduction of a woman who allegedly appeared in numerous explicit videos of sexual assault, purportedly involving Prajwal.

According to police sources, SIT personnel brought Prajwal, the former Hassan MP, to his Holenarasipura residence under tight security measures. The authorities took no chances, cordoning off the entire area as a precaution. This marked Prajwal’s first visit to his residence since April 27.

Prajwal, who was seen wearing a black T-shirt and a mask, had been in Germany after explicit videos went viral, depicting women being sexually abused allegedly by him. He fled the country amidst the growing scandal, returning only on May 31, after which he was promptly arrested by the SIT. The SIT was established to thoroughly investigate the serious allegations of sexual assault against him.

This case has drawn significant media attention due to the involvement of a high-profile political family. Prajwal is the grandson of former Prime Minister and JD(S) supremo H D Deve Gowda. The scandal has not only tarnished Prajwal’s political career but also brought considerable scrutiny to his family’s activities and associations.

The investigation into Prajwal’s alleged crimes has been rigorous. The SIT has been methodical in gathering evidence and ensuring that all necessary legal procedures are followed. The inspection of Prajwal’s house in Holenarasipura was a critical part of the ongoing investigation, aimed at uncovering any additional evidence that could substantiate the charges against him.

The allegations against Prajwal have sparked widespread outrage and condemnation. Women’s rights organizations and activists have been vocal in demanding justice for the victims, calling for a swift and thorough investigation to ensure that those responsible are held accountable. The case has also prompted a broader discussion about the prevalence of sexual violence and the need for systemic changes to protect vulnerable individuals from such heinous acts.

As the investigation progresses, the SIT is expected to continue its meticulous work, leaving no stone unturned. The authorities are also likely to keep the public informed about significant developments in the case, given the high level of public interest and concern.

Prajwal’s legal team, on the other hand, is preparing to mount a robust defense, arguing that the allegations are part of a political conspiracy to tarnish his reputation and that of his family. They claim that the evidence against him is circumstantial and that the case is being blown out of proportion due to his high-profile status.

The judicial process will ultimately determine Prajwal’s fate, as the courts will assess the evidence presented by both the prosecution and the defense. The case is a reminder of the complexities and challenges involved in addressing allegations of sexual assault, particularly when they intersect with issues of power, politics, and public perception.

In the meantime, the affected communities in Holenarasipura and beyond are grappling with the implications of the case. The allegations have undoubtedly shaken the trust and faith of many individuals, highlighting the urgent need for effective mechanisms to address and prevent sexual violence.

The outcome of this high-profile investigation will have far-reaching consequences, not only for Prajwal and his family but also for the broader fight against sexual violence and the quest for justice for survivors. The nation watches closely as the judicial process unfolds, hoping for a resolution that upholds the principles of justice and accountability.

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Karnataka Government Dismisses KSPCB Chairperson Over Misconduct

KSPCB Chairperson Shanth A Thimmaiah was dismissed by the Karnataka government for misuse of power and rule violations in awarding contracts worth Rs 17 crore.



Karnataka Government Dismisses KSPCB Chairperson Over Misconduct

The state government on Friday dismissed Karnataka State Pollution Control Board (KSPCB) chairperson Shanth A Thimmaiah from his position for abuse of powers and violation of rules in three different instances, including sidestepping transparency laws while awarding works worth Rs 17 crore.

Last year, the government had issued a notice to Thimmaiah stating that he violated the Karnataka Transparency in Public Procurement (KTPP) Act as well as the rules for selecting a single source agency in awarding advertisement works worth Rs 17 crore. This was done without the technical endorsement from the member secretary and the necessary administrative approvals.

Thimmaiah had replied that the decision was brought to the notice of the Board, which had given post-facto approval. He argued that giving notice to the chairman was inappropriate since the board had endorsed his action, making it a collective decision.

However, the government noted that work worth Rs 3.4 crore was given to Sai Advertisers though the agency did not submit the cost sheet. Similarly, the government said the chairman illegally awarded work to Signpost India Pvt Ltd without inviting bids.

In the case of Rs 7 crore work given to Adonmo Pvt Ltd, the government said Thimmaiah “abused power” and picked the company “illegally” by violating the rules to set up a selection committee. As per the rules issued in 1976, the chairman has powers to decide on tender worth up to Rs 25,000. “However, by awarding works worth over Rs 7 crore, it is very clear that Shanth A Thimmaiah has abused his powers,” the order said.

In the second instance, the government had served notice to Thimmaiah for appointing Suri Payala, the IT Manager at KSPCB, as the member secretary (additional charge). As per the rule, the post can be held by a senior All India Service officer with a master’s degree in science or an equivalent degree in allied sciences with prior experience in matters connected to KSPCB.

Thimmaiah was appointed for three years in November 2021 in violation of the law. As per rule, his tenure would have been limited to less than six months. The Congress government sought to correct the mistake by removing him in August 2023. However, the Karnataka High Court granted a stay and allowed him to continue.

“As per The Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act Section 4(2)(f) and as per high court orders, appointing chairman, member secretary, and members is a power vested with the government,” the order said, adding that Thimmaiah exceeded his brief.

The third instance related to the alleged scam in the clearances given to Enviro Recyclean Pvt Ltd, a plastic recycling company. An audit by the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) found that the firm was not operational but had issued extended producer responsibility (EPR) certificates for recycling 3.48 lakh tonnes. The KSPCB had issued consent to operate the factory within seven days after issuing consent to set up the plant.

To a notice issued by the government for not suspending the officials responsible for the scam, Thimmaiah had stated that prior permission from the government was necessary for such actions. However, Thimmaiah had unilaterally suspended three environment officers. “This shows contradictory positions and biased action,” the order said, adding that his argument was “baseless”.

The dismissal order was accompanied by another order in which the government gave additional charge of Chairman’s position to B P Ravi, principal secretary (Ecology and Environment).

Thimmaiah’s tenure as KSPCB chairperson has been marred by controversies and allegations of rule violations. His decisions to award contracts without proper procedure and his appointments within the board have raised serious questions about governance and transparency. The government’s decisive action to remove him reflects its commitment to uphold the rule of law and ensure accountability within its institutions.

The awarding of significant contracts without the required endorsements and approvals is a grave violation that undermines public trust in governmental processes. The appointment of an IT manager to a senior administrative position bypassing established norms also showcases a disregard for due process.

The scandal involving Enviro Recyclean Pvt Ltd further compounds the issues, highlighting the lapses in regulatory oversight and potential corruption within the KSPCB under Thimmaiah’s leadership. The swift issuance of consents to the non-operational company points to severe procedural failures that demand stringent corrective measures.

Thimmaiah’s removal is a crucial step towards restoring the integrity of the KSPCB. It sends a clear message that misuse of power and violations of rules will not be tolerated. The appointment of B P Ravi as the interim chairperson aims to bring stability and ensure that the board’s operations are aligned with legal and procedural standards.

The government must continue to scrutinize and rectify any further irregularities to rebuild confidence in the KSPCB. This incident serves as a reminder of the importance of transparency, accountability, and adherence to established regulations in maintaining the credibility of public institutions.

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Bengaluru Court Sends JD(S) MP Prajwal Revanna to SIT Custody Until June 6

Bengaluru court remands JD(S) MP Prajwal Revanna to SIT’s custody until June 6 over rape and sexual harassment allegations in Hassan sex abuse case.



Bengaluru Court Sends JD(S) MP Prajwal Revanna to SIT Custody Until June 6

On Friday, a Bengaluru court remanded JD(S) MP Prajwal Revanna to the custody of the Special Investigation Team (SIT) until June 6, in connection with the Hassan sex abuse case. The lawmaker, accused of raping at least two women, including a former maid in her 60s, and sexually harassing another woman, was presented before the 42nd Additional Chief Metropolitan Magistrate (ACMM).

Prajwal Revanna was arrested by SIT officials shortly after his arrival at Bengaluru‘s Kempegowda International Airport from Munich, Germany, at 12:53 am on Friday. He had reportedly fled abroad following the surfacing of sleaze videos during the April 26 Lok Sabha elections in southern Karnataka.

After spending the night in a holding cell at the SIT office located at the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) headquarters in Bengaluru, Prajwal underwent a medical checkup at Bowring and Lady Curzon Hospital in Shivajinagar. Subsequently, he was produced before the magistrate.

Special Public Prosecutor Ashok Naik, representing the SIT, requested 14 days of police custody for Prajwal. However, Prajwal’s advocate, Arun G, argued that the initial FIR filed against his client did not mention rape charges until May 5 and opposed the extended police custody. Naik countered by stating that there were “several pieces of evidence” against Prajwal and reiterated the demand for police custody. In response, Arun suggested that one day of police custody would suffice for interrogation, urging the court not to remand Prajwal for more than a day.

After hearing arguments from both sides, Judge Shivakumar reserved the order. Following an hour-long break, the judge remanded Prajwal in police custody until June 6. The SIT, as sources indicated, plans to begin the investigation process as early as Saturday, including conducting a spot mahazar (recreation of the crime scene) and potentially a potency test on Prajwal.

On Friday morning, before Prajwal was taken for his medical examination, his counsel Arun visited him at the SIT office. Addressing the media, Arun stated that Prajwal was fully cooperating with the SIT and appealed for no media trial, emphasizing Prajwal’s request for a fair hearing without prejudgment. Arun urged the media, both English and Kannada, to respect Prajwal’s legal rights while carrying out their duties.

According to Arun, the SIT had shown Prajwal’s arrest in the first case of sexual harassment, registered on April 28 at the Holenarasipura Town police station. This case also implicates Prajwal’s father, Holenarasipura MLA HD Revanna, as the first accused. Both are charged with sexually harassing a 47-year-old former house help.

The allegations against Prajwal Revanna have sparked significant attention, given his political standing and the serious nature of the charges. The Hassan sex abuse case has emerged as a high-profile investigation, with the SIT under pressure to conduct a thorough and impartial probe. The upcoming days will be crucial as the SIT delves deeper into the allegations and evidence surrounding Prajwal Revanna and his alleged victims.

The legal proceedings against Prajwal will be closely watched, not just for their outcome, but also for the broader implications they may have on addressing sexual harassment and abuse within political spheres. As the SIT continues its investigation, the case underscores the importance of upholding justice and the rule of law, ensuring that all individuals, regardless of their status, are held accountable for their actions.

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