Urging Union Home Minister Amit Shah, who is currently touring Karnataka, to announce drought relief compensation in the State itself, Revenue Minister Krishna Byre Gowda on February 11 accused the Centre of causing inordinate delay in release of drought relief funds. The State, which has declared drought in 223 taluks, has sought a total compensation of ₹18,172 crore, including ₹4,663 crore under NDRF to compensate crop loss.
The Revenue Minister asked Mr. Shah to consider the situation seriously, and take an immediate decision on the issue of drought compensation. “It is a sensitive issue and for the welfare of the people. The compensation under NDRF is a State’s right and the constitutional obligation of the Centre. We are not asking for help or charity.”
The BJP and Janata Dal (Secular) leaders should convince the Centre to release the compensation immediately, he said, failing which the public would think that the two parties are not in favour of their welfare.
“It has been four-and-a-half months since we submitted our memorandum. I do not want to politicise the issue. The delay has been unreasonable. We declared drought in the State on September 13. A memorandum was submitted to the Centre on September 23 following which the central drought monitoring team visited Karnataka and submitted its report in October. The high level committee meetings scheduled on December 23 and January 16 have been postponed. The Centre has kept the file pending for three months now. The result has been that the farmers already in trouble have been further distressed,” Mr. Byre Gowda told presspersons here. He said of about eight States that have approached the Centre for drought relief, Karnataka had submitted its memorandum two months before others did.
He said that the State Government had released ₹2,000 as drought relief to 33 lakh farmers in the first installment that totals to about ₹628 crore, adding that further compensation could only be released to farmers if the Centre released the NDRF money.
Though water problem being faced by about 202 villages across the State is being tackled currently, Mr. Byre Gowda said that a detailed list of 7,082 villages which are at the risk of facing water shortage across the State in the coming months has been drawn up. Similarly, about 1,000 localities have been identified in urban areas that are at risk of facing water shortage, he said.
“Tenders to identify private water tankers to supply water to potentially risky villages are currently underway. Around 2,654 private borewells have been identified that would be taken on rent to supply water to affected villages. Seven lakh more fodder seed kits will be distributed to farmers to ensure that there is no fodder shortage.”