Centre should wake up now, release funds: Minister Krishna Byre Gowda

Karnataka’s petition seeking the apex court’s direction to the Centre to release drought-relief funds came up for hearing on Monday.
Representational image
Representational image

BENGALURU: With the Centre seeking two weeks time in the Supreme Court to decide on Karnataka’s petition for drought-relief funds, Revenue Minister Krishna Byre Gowda said at least now the Union government should wake up and release the funds.

Karnataka’s petition seeking the apex court’s direction to the Centre to release drought-relief funds came up for hearing on Monday.

The minister said the court expressed its view that the delay is not right and on behalf of the Central government, the Attorney General and Solicitor General sought two weeks time to decide and come back before the court.

The minister said when the court was to issue a notice, the Attorney General and Solicitor General requested not to issue the notice, stating that they will decide on it and come before the court. “I think they (Centre) understood the court’s views. The bench also said if you (Centre) take a decision, it can be settled out of the court. The court also expressed optimism that the Centre will take such a decision,” the minister said.

The minister and senior officers from Karnataka were present in the Supreme Court when the case came up for hearing. He said the state had submitted a memorandum to the Centre early and even a central team had visited 13 districts in the first week of October last year. By November 20, officials had submitted their report to the Union Home Minister, he said.

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'Karnataka declared drought early, but no relief till now,' says Minister Krishna Byre Gowda

“But from November 20 to till now, the high-level committee had not taken the decision. The file is gathering dust on the Home Minister’s table. We continued our efforts and met the secretaries of agriculture and home departments, and also Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, Home Minister Amit Shah and Prime Minister Narendra Modi in December 2023,” the minister said and added that Chief Minister Siddaramaiah had again met the PM in January and put forth the same request.

As per law, the Centre should have released drought-relief funds in November, within one month of the Central team’s visit, he said. “The Central government was in deep slumber and meted out injustice to Karnataka. We were forced to approach the Supreme Court and on March 23, we filed our application. The central government woke up after that and wrote to the Election Commission on March 28 that too after realising that the matter is coming up before the Supreme Court,” he said.

The minister said at least now the Central government should release funds. The state has asked for Rs 18,172 for drought relief, of which Rs 4,663 crore was for providing relief to farmers. If Rs 4,663 crore is released, each farmer can get around Rs 13,000. During the drought, if the money is given to farmers, they will at least get some relief.

The minister hoped that the Centre would take a decision so that farmers get Rs 13,000 relief.

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