Bengaluru, Aug 19,2016:The State Cabinet on Wednesday gave its approval to entrust the work of turning the famous Jog Falls into an all season spectacle to a firm owned by Abu Dhabi-based Indian businessman B R Shetty.
A proposal for retaining the Jog Falls in Sagar taluk in Shivamogga district in its full glory throughout the year, including the dry months, has been on the cards for nine years now. Briefing reporters after the meeting, Law Minister T B Jayachandra said that recently BRS Ventures of the New Medical Centre (NMC) Group owned by Shetty had submitted its bid expressing interest in executing the project. The state-run National Buildings Construction Corporation Ltd also participated in the bid but later withdrew.
BRS Ventures has proposed to invest Rs 450 crore in the project. The company will have to get clearances from the Ministry of Environment and Forests and other agencies concerned before executing the project. The entire project will be monitored by the Jog Management Authority (JMA), a government body. The investor can collect fees from tourists and visitors only after the rates are ratified by the JMA, he said. The minister said the number of visitors to the Jog Falls is at its peak during July-October (around eight lakh) after which the footfall declines as the falls dries-up. Most of the hotels and government guest houses remain unoccupied during off-season, he said.
Jayachandra said the Cabinet discussed at length the pros and cons of giving approval for the project. The meeting decided that the approval should be given on the condition that the final project report should be strictly adhered to after clearances from various agencies.
According to sources, a section of ministers expressed apprehension that the project if not monitored properly could take the direction of Bengaluru-Mysuru Infrastructure Corridor project (executed by Nandi Infrastructure Corridor Enterprises), which has been riddled in controversy since its inception.
Jayachandra said Shetty, who hails from Udupi and went on to build a business empire in the Gulf, had stated at the recent edition of Invest Karnataka summit that he was executing the project without any commercial interest in mind.
Shetty stated that he wanted to give back something to the state, the minister added.
The project was first mooted 10 years ago by Prof H R Vishwanath, a former principal of the BMS College of Engineering, Bengaluru. Prof Vishwanath said around 200 cusecs of water per second is required to create artificial falls throughout the year. This can be done using reversible pumping technology and power can also be generated.