B R SHETTY, a wealthy businessman of Karnataka origin and based in Abu Dhabi where he owns real estate in the Burj Khalifa tower, will develop a government hospital spread over two acres in Udupi region and develop one of Karnataka’s foremost tourist destinations, the Jog Falls of Shimoga region.
The cabinet headed by Chief Minister Siddaramaiah approved the two projects Wednesday. “The cabinet has okayed an MoU with B R Shetty Ventures after consultations with the law, finance and health departments. Land next to the government community health centre at Mudanidamburu village in Udupi district will be given on lease for 30 years for setting up a super-specialty hospital,” Law Minister T B Jayachandra said.
The existing community health centre will also be developed by the B R Shetty group under the deal, the minister said. Under the MoU, B R Shetty Ventures Ltd will build a 400-bed specialty hospital at a Rs 200 crore.
Siddaramaiah’s Twitter handle put out a tweet, “A govt hospital in Udupi shall be handed over to Abu Dhabi-based entrepreneur BR Shetty to develop it into a multi-speciality hospital.” Official social media pages linked to the government also announced the decision to hand over the tourist destination of Jog Falls to the B R Shetty group to make it a perennial tourist destination instead of the seasonal monsoon one that it is at present. “Apart from making it a perennial waterfall, Abu Dhabi-based Indian businessman B R Shetty has also proposed to create world-class facilities by setting up a water fantasy park, resort and a five-star hotel,” a government-run Facebook account announced Thursday.
Under the scheme, the B R Shetty group with local engineers will put in place “a reverse pumping mechanism” at Jog Falls, the government said.
“About 200 cusecs of water from a barrage near Sithakatti Bridge will be pumped to the top of Jog Falls with controlled release. During the monsoon, the reverse pumping unit will be used to generate power. We can generate about 2.16 crore kilowatt power every year and sell it to KPCL for Rs 3.24 to Rs 5 per unit,” the government said.
Shetty has over the years enjoyed a good rapport with governments in Karnataka. During the tenure of B S Yeddyurappa as BJP chief minister between 2008 and 2011, Shetty’s name was part of a controversy over alleged illegal denotification of government-acquired land carried out by members of Yeddyurappa’s family.
In one case, on May 5, 2010, Yeddyurappa — allegedly at the behest of his family — denotified 11.25 acres (then valued at over Rs 100 crore) that had originally been acquired on February 23, 2004, by the Bangalore Development Authority as part of a process to create a residential area known as the Arkavathy Layout.
The request for denotification was made by Shetty, as land owner, on August 18, 2008, a couple of months after Yeddyurappa became chief minister. One portion measuring 2 acres and 20 guntas, valued at around Rs 30 crore, was sold after de-notification for Rs 3.37 crore to Besto Infrastructure Bangalore Ltd, a partner company in a real estate firm, Davalagiri Developers, run by Yeddyurappa’s family.