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Karnataka: Govt tables bill mandating the use of 60% Kannada on signboards

Bengaluru: The Karnataka government on Tuesday tabled the bill mandating the use of Kannada on business signboards. The bill, known as the Kannada Language Comprehensive Development (Amendment) Bill, 2024, seeks to amend the existing 2022 Act. According to the statement of objects and reasons within the bill, Kannada must occupy 60% of the space on signboards, with placement in the upper half of the name board.

A signboard of a business establishment after being vandalised in Bengaluru. (PTI file photo)

The scope of the amendment extends to various sectors including commercial, industrial, and business establishments, as well as trusts, counselling centres, hospitals, laboratories, amusement centres, and hotels. It mandates that these entities display 60% of their signage in the Kannada language, subject to approval and sanction by government or local authorities.

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Additionally, the bill proposes amendments to appoint the director of the Directorate of Kannada and Culture as a member, and the secretary of the Kannada Development Authority as the convener of the “State Level Committee”. This committee will serve as an enforcement authority responsible for implementing the use of the official language.

Previously, on January 5, the Karnataka Cabinet approved an ordinance aimed at amending the Kannada Language Comprehensive Development Act to enforce the 60% usage of Kannada on signboards. However, Governor Thaawarchand Gehlot returned the ordinance, advising the government to pursue its passage through the Assembly instead of resorting to an ordinance.

The decision to propose the ordinance followed violent demonstrations by pro-Kannada groups targeting businesses in Bengaluru for allegedly neglecting the state language. On December 27, a fringe language group vandalised numerous business establishments across the city, demanding 60% Kannada usage on signboards.

In response, the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) initiated a drive to enforce the “60% Kannada” rule for name boards on commercial establishments. As of Saturday, approximately 34,000 notices have been issued to non-compliant businesses, with a deadline set for February 28 for compliance. In the Bommanahalli area alone, reportedly more than 6,000 notices were sent to shops, instructing them to adhere to the requirement before the deadline.

Also Read: Kannada language row simmers, CM Siddaramaiah promises to bring in ordinance

Law and order situation

Meanwhile, tension flared in the Karnataka Legislative Assembly on Tuesday as the opposition BJP raised concerns about the deteriorating law and order situation in the state, accusing the Congress-led government of failing to maintain order and safety.

On the commencement of the session, Leader of Opposition R Ashoka called for an immediate discussion on the issue, citing recent incidents such as the stripping and public humiliation of a woman in Belagavi, the gang rape in Haveri, and rising instances of cybercrime and terrorism. Ashoka said there is a need for urgency of addressing these issues and criticized the government’s perceived inaction.

“The law and order situation has deteriorated, with recent incidents like woman stripped naked and paraded in Belagavi, Haveri gang rape, cybercrime, and terror related activities. Our adjournment notice should be allowed and discussion has to be taken up on this. Last time, during the Belagavi session also we had pressed for adjournment motion on this, and the matter was listed in the agenda, but was not taken up for discussion,” Ashoka said.

In response, Home Minister G Parameshwara assured that the government would address the allegations after the Question Hour. He pledged to respond to concerns about law and order while highlighting incidents that occurred during the BJP’s tenure.

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