Centre clears Rs 3,498 crore, 20 per cent of drought relief sought by Karnataka

Karnataka had sent proposal for D18,171 cr, to continue the legal battle in SC for the balance amount
CM Siddaramaiah, BJP leader
BY Vijayendra
CM Siddaramaiah, BJP leader BY Vijayendra

BENGALURU: The Union Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) on Friday sanctioned Rs 3,498 crore to Karnataka under National Disaster Response Fund (NDRF) as relief for the 2023 drought (kharif) against the state’s request for Rs 18,171 crore.

Reacting to this, Revenue Minister Krishna Byre Gowda alleged that the Centre continued to do injustice to the state by releasing only 19.25% of the state’s claim. “It is because of our legal battle that we managed to get at least this much. If we had not approached the SC, the Centre would not have released even that. The state is facing one of the worst droughts with 223 of the 240 taluks declared drought-hit. But it got less than 20% of the fund sought,” he said.

The ruling Congress in Karnataka and the opposition BJP have made this a major issue in the campaign for Lok Sabha elections. Getting even 19.25% of the total amount requested as drought relief has become a poll plank, while stressing on efforts to get the balance amount at the earliest.

Byre Gowda said the drought relief money will be released directly to the bank accounts of farmers in the next one week as the fund is transferred to the state’s account from the Centre. “There is no mention of arrears in the Centre’s notification. Thus, the state government’s legal battle will continue until the due amount (remaining of the total Rs 18,171 crore requested) is received from the Centre,” he said.

He said the Centre is likely to inform the court on Monday about its decision, after discussing with its counsels and CM Siddaramaiah on how to get the balance amount. He said the state government had submitted a memorandum to the Centre for assistance on September 22, 2023, after which a central team toured 13 Karnataka districts between April 4 and 9 and submitted a report to the Union Ministry of Agriculture and Home Affairs within a week.

Siddu flays Centre

CM Siddaramaiah has expressed dissatisfaction over the quantum of drought relief announced by the Centre. He said his government had sought Rs 18,172 crore as drought relief. But the Centre has sanctioned only Rs 3,464 crore, which is not even a quarter of the state’s request.

K’taka BJP thanks PM

Karnataka BJP leaders have hit out at Congress government for its decision to stage a protest on Sunday and thanked PM Modi for providing funds. BJP leader BY Vijayendra said despite the MCC in place, the Modi government took special permission from the EC to provide assistance.

Congress to protest over Centre’s relief

“On November 13, all recommendations related to the state reached Union Home Minister Amit Shah’s office, which did not act,” he alleged.

The Congress government has decided to stage a dharna in front of Mahatma Gandhi’s statue at Vidhana Soudha on Sunday. “It is because of the wave against the BJP in the LS polls that the Centre has sanctioned funds for drought relief, which is meagre. It is like half a penny’s buttermilk for an elephant’s stomach (“Aane hottege are kasina majjige” in Kannada),” alleged DCM Shivakumar.

He told reporters that he has postponed his election campaign in North Karnataka and invited party leaders, including legislators, to take part in the dharna against the Centre.

The Karnataka government had moved the Supreme Court alleging that drought relief grants were delayed by the Centre despite efforts by Siddaramaiah who met Shah and Prime Minister Narendra Modi in December 2023, besides submitting memorandums earlier.

After two hearings, the Centre informed the apex court last Monday that it had taken permission from the Election Commission of India (ECI) to take a call on sanctioning funds from NDRF to tackle drought in Karnataka.

Byre Gowda thanked the Supreme Court and clarified that Karnataka was forced to approach the court as the Centre caused a delay in providing funds to tackle drought even seven months after submitting memorandums.

“This is a milestone and a success in our long fight to get justice and relief to the people of Karnataka,” he said.

Related Stories

No stories found.

The New Indian Express