Bangalore infrastructure issues Narayana Murthy quits as BIAL Chairman

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Our Bureau

Bangalore, Oct. 20

BANGALORE'S much politicised infrastructure imbroglio today took its toll with Mr N.R. Narayana Murthy resigning as the Chairman of Bangalore International Airport Ltd.

The Infosys Chief Mentor, in his letter to the Karnataka Chief Minister, Mr Dharam Singh, expressed that he was hurt by the coalition partner and former Prime Minister Mr H.D. Deve Gowda's recent remarks about lack of his contribution to BIAL in the last five years in spite of the time and efforts he had put in to see the project through. He said he was even more let down that neither the Chief Minister nor his colleagues had set the record straight in the face of the allegations.

Mr Dharam Singh this evening told newspersons that he would try to sort out the issue and ask Mr Murthy to continue in the post. "I will sort out this issue and ascertain the reasons for his resignation. Mr Murthy has contributed immensely to the IT and biotechnology sectors," he said.

Things came to a head over a week ago when Mr Gowda took a dig at Mr Murthy's vision for the State's urban governance initiatives.

At the centre of the controversy is also Infosys' application for 845 acres of land on the outskirts of Bangalore for its expansion plan. In a letter to Mr Dharam Singh recently, Mr Gowda questioned Mr Murthy's role in the progress of the airport project at Devanahalli. He also accused IT companies of land-grabbing and sought a review of land allotment to infotech companies, following which the State Cabinet on Wednesday decided to set up a committee to study the issue.

Mr Murthy's role in pushing through the red tape for what seemed like a herculean airport project has been acknowledged, openly by the BIAL Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer, Mr Albert Brunner, and in private by bureaucrats and officials associated with the airport project.

Reacting to the development, Mr Anant Koppar, President of the Bangalore Chamber of Industry & Commerce, said, "It is an unfortunate event to have happened in the private-public partnerships in Karnataka. People's faith that the private-public partnerships will enhance the current and future infrastructure and service obligations of the State will be shaken. This will delay the progress of the international airport."

Text of Narayana Murthy's letter

The following is the text of the letter by Mr N.R. Narayana Murthy to Mr Dharam Singh:

Dear Mr Dharam Singh,

The media reports of October 17, 2005 refer to your coalition partner, Mr Deve Gowda, speaking to the Press about lack of my contribution to the Bangalore International Airport Ltd during the last five years. I wish he had asked me personally before going to the Press, or talked to you or ascertained it from members of the board. I am disappointed that a former Prime Minister did not accord me this basic courtesy. I am pained, more so, that leaders in the Government like you did not even clarify my role in the company and the work that has been done. I have spent enormous amount of time and energy in interacting with the Government in New Delhi and the Government here to make this work. The records prove themselves.

Therefore, I am resigning from the chairmanship of BIAL effective Thursday, October 20, 2005.

I thank you for giving me this opportunity to serve the people of the State.

Best regards,

Yours sincerely,

N.R. Narayana Murthy

Chairman and Chief Mentor,

Infosys Technologies

(This article was published in the Business Line print edition dated October 21, 2005)
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