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Karnataka speaker to decide on Lokayukta deposition move, says Siddaramaiah

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Karnataka-Chief-Minister-Siddaramaiah

By NewsGram Staff Writer

The Congress government in Karnataka on Sunday said it will wait for the legislative assembly speaker’s ruling on opposition lawmakers’ move to oust the Lokayukta following a bribery charge against his son.

“It is for Speaker Kogadu Thimmappa to decide on the opposition move to remove Lokayukta Justice Y. Bhaskar Rao, though we have set up a special team to probe the graft charges against some officials in the institution and a Rs.1 crore bribe charge against his son Ashwin Rao,” Chief Minister Siddaramaiah told reporters on Sunday.

About 60 Bharatiya Janata Party and Janata Dal-Secular legislators jointly submitted a memo to the speaker on July 3 for Rao’s removal under the Karnataka Lokayukta Act, 1984, which empowers the state legislature to do so.

“We will abide by the speaker’s decision, as we are not protecting anyone and will allow the law to take its course. As per the Act, the house only has the power to remove the ombudsman. It is also up to Rao to decide whether to step down or not,” Siddaramaiah said on the margins of a function here.

Opposition leader and former chief minister Jagadish Shettar of the BJP said corruption charges against the very institution that was set up to check graft was a body blow to democracy and weakens the crusade against such crimes.

“As Rao failed to prevent some Lokayukta officials and his son from being accused of taking bribes, he should step down till the probe is completed or the state government should ask him to support our demand,” Shettar told reporters after a party meeting.

The state legislature’s 10-day monsoon session is on since June 29 at Belagavi, 510 km from Bengaluru.

According to the speaker’s office, the business advisory committee will decide on Monday on the admission, discussion and ruling upon the opposition’s plea.

The opposition members had also submitted a similar memo on June 2 to legislative council Chairman D.H. Shankaramurthy for Rao’s ouster.

The state government had set up the Special Investigation Team (SIT) on June 30, under Additional Director General of Police (ADGP) Kamal Pant on the ombudsman’s request on June 29 after city crime branch Joint Commissioner M. Chandra Shekar on June 27 declined to conduct the probe, as his father-in-law was facing a Lokayukta inquiry in a corruption case.

The Karnataka High Court on July 1 also allowed the SIT to conduct the probe and stayed an internal inquiry ordered by Upa Lokayukta Subhash B. Adi against some unidentified officials in the anti-graft watchdog and Ashwin Rao on a report by Lokayukta Superintendent of Police Sonia Narang in May.

(With inputs from IANS)

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ISRO Sets up Regional Academic Centre for Space in Karnataka

Both the academic and research institutions will also collaborate in setting up optical telescope facilities under the Netra project for space object tracking, studying space weather, asteroids and near earth objects

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The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) set up a regional academic centre for space at the National Institute of Technology (NITK) at Surathkal in Karnataka’s southwest Dakshina Kannada district, an official said on Saturday.

“The centre at NIT-K will conduct joint research and development in space technology applications to meet the needs of our space programmes,” space agency’s director for capacity building P.V. Venkitakrishnan said in a statement here.

The state-run ISRO will provide Rs 2 crore grant annually to NIT for the R&D projects and promotional activities through the year.

The space agency and the engineering institute signed an agreement on the industry-academic collaboration on Friday at Surathkal, about 380km from Bengaluru.

“The centre, fourth in the country, will also facilitate promoting space technology in the southern states, including Andhra Pradesh, Kerala, Puducherry, Tamil Nadu and Telangana and be an ambassador for capacity-building, awareness and research and development (R&D), said Venkitakrishnan on the occasion.

A joint policy and management committee will guide the centre in optimal utilisation of the research potential, infrastructure, expertise and experience of the space agency and the autonomous institute.

“The committee will plan activities like research programmes of common interest and reviewing their projects periodically,” said the director.

ISRO’s visiting scientists and experts in space technology and NIT faculty members and researchers will direct the centre’s activities, including projects.

ISRO
Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) Chairman K. Sivan, left, and Junior Indian Minister for Department of Atomic Energy and Space Jitendra Singh address a news conference in New Delhi. VOA

“Students of under-graduation (B.Tech) and post-graduation (M.Tech) will be involved in one-year short-term research projects and 2-4 year long-term projects in advance space programmes,” said NIT K. Umamashewara Rao.

The intellectual property rights (patent) generated in the projects will be jointly owned by ISRO and NITK.

The other three such centres are Malaviya National Institute of Technology at Jaipur in Rajasthan, Gauhati University in Assam’s state capital and Kurukshetra University at Thanesar in Haryana.

In a related development, the city-based space agency also tied up with the state-run Indian Institute of Astrophysics (IIA) for cooperating to develop space situational awareness.

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“The agreement envisages utilisation of IIA’s expertise in astrophysics and astronomy for developing advanced technologies for inter-planetary space explorations,” said the space agency’s scientific secretary R. Umamaheswaran.

Both the academic and research institutions will also collaborate in setting up optical telescope facilities under the Netra project for space object tracking, studying space weather, asteroids and near earth objects.

“Collaboration will help us progress in various fields of astrophysics and astronomy,” said IIA Director Annapurni Subramaniam on the occasion. (IANS)