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Gulf NRIs keen to invest in K'taka: Kumaraswamy

Kumaraswamy prevailed upon the expatriates to hard-sell their home state as a premier destination for Gulf investors.

india Updated: Jun 14, 2006 12:35 IST

Non-Resident Indians (NRIs) from Karnataka in the Gulf region have expressed readiness to invest in infrastructure and tourism projects in their home state.

Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy, who returned from a four-day maiden trip to Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Muscat on Monday, said in Bangalore that the majority of NRIs from the state, who are successful entrepreneurs and businessmen in the Gulf, have shown interest in taking up development projects under public-private partnership.

"I was overwhelmed by the response of the diaspora from Karnataka to our call to invest in the state, especially in infrastructure and tourism projects. Many are keen to participate in the development of satellite townships, which the state government is considering to decongest Bangalore, the fastest growing city in the country.

"With the opening up of the tourism sector in the state for private participation, several Gulf Kannadigas have expressed willingness to take up infrastructure projects on a turn-key basis and operate some of the facilities to promote Karnataka in their region as a tourist destination," Kumaraswamy said.

According to official estimates, of the total two-three million Indian expatriates in the Gulf region, about 500,000 hail from Karnataka, with the majority being from coastal areas.

The chief minister, who led a five-member delegation to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Oman for participating in various social and cultural activities organised by Kannadigas in the Gulf, was the chief guest at the silver jubilee celebrations of the Abu Dhabi Karnataka Sangha.

Sheikh Nahyan bin Mubarak Al Nahyan, the UAE minister for higher education and scientific research, who inaugurated the gala event, lauded the contribution of the expatriates from Karnataka to the growth and development of the Gulf state.

Later, the Dubai chapter of the Sangha also felicitated Kumaraswamy during the trip.

Kumaraswamy prevailed upon the expatriates to hard-sell their home state as a premier destination for Gulf investors in diverse sectors.

"Business delegations from Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Muscat have agreed to visit Bangalore over the next couple of months for assessing the investment potential in new sectors like IT and BT (biotech) besides real estate projects in the state," Kumaraswamy said.

Ahead of these visits, including one each from the Dubai Internet City and the Dubai Knowledge City, the state government has decided to set up a special non-resident Karnataka affairs cell, headed by an administrative officer, on the lines of a similar cell in Kerala.

The special cell will accord top preference to UAE investors with a single-window clearance system and a viability gap of 20 per cent in public-private partnerships.

"I have invited Dubai Internet City executive director Jamal Abdul Salam, Oman Chamber of Commerce & Industry director-general Mohamed Naseer Al-Shoraiqi and others to visit Bangalore and explore investment opportunities in the state across verticals such as heavy machinery, oil and petroleum sector, food-processing, textiles and jewellery," Kumaraswamy said.

In response to the various demands of NRIs from the state living in the Gulf, the chief minister said he would persuade the civil aviation ministry to permit direct flights from Dubai and Muscat to Mangalore, which has been recently upgraded with night-landing facilities.

"Though the Bajpe airport at Mangalore is ready for operating international flights, the shortage of aircraft with Indian and Air-India is causing a delay in launching direct flights. We will seek clearance from the central government for allowing Gulf carriers to operate their flights in the meantime."

Kannada Sangha chief patron BR Shetty, who operates trade exchange in Abu Dhabi, has also asked for reserving seats in professional colleges for the children of expatriates from the state.

Kumaraswamy said the government would consider granting exemption from the domicile rule when seeking admission for higher education.

According to the existing rule for students hailing from Karnataka but studying in the Gulf, if one of the parents had studied in the state for five years, their ward should study at least two continuous years during their schooling to get admission in professional courses.

First Published: Jun 14, 2006 12:35 IST