Karnataka announces interim relief for drought-hit farmers, Union government yet to release funds

As per the NDRF norms, the Karnataka government has sought ₹18,171.44 crore as drought relief from the Union government.

ByMahesh M Goudar

Published Dec 01, 2023 | 8:09 AMUpdated Dec 01, 2023 | 8:09 AM

Karnataka announces interim relief for drought-hit farmers, Union government yet to release funds

Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah on Thursday, 30 November, announced an interim relief of up to ₹2,000 to the state’s drought-hit farmers.

Siddaramaiah made the announcement even as the Union government was yet to release the drought relief fund the state has been demanding. Once the central funds were received, they would be disbursed to the farmers after deducting the ₹2,000 the state would be providing as interim relief.

Additionally, the chief minister also announced ₹460 crore as compensation for crop failure, besides providing midseason crop insurance to 6.5 lakh farmers.

Expressing anguish over the Narendra Modi-led Union government delaying the release of drought relief funds, Siddaramaiah said that he wrote to Union Home Minister Amit Shah on 25 November, seeking an appointment to discuss the severe drought in the state.

Karnataka has sought ₹18,171.44 crore to tide over the drought from the National Disaster Relief Fund (NDRF). The government has declared 223 of the 236 talukas as drought-affected due to a 73 percent deficit in rainfall, the lowest in 122 years.

The Union government has not yet released the state-sought funds, despite Revenue Minister Krishna Byre Gowda and Agriculture Minister N Chaluvarayaswamy meeting Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman.

Related: Slamming BJP drought tour, Siddaramaiah says it should approach Union government and get relief for Karnataka

Relief to be disbursed in 4-5 days

The decision to provide interim relief was made in light of the upcoming winter session of the state Assembly in Belagavi, slated to commence on 4 December

“Since the Union government has been delaying the release of drought relief funds, the state government is announcing a first installment of up to ₹2,000 for farmers. Everyone will not get ₹2,000, some might get ₹1,000 and others might ₹1,500,” Siddaramaiah told reporters.

“We will initiate the process (of disbursing the amount) in four to five days. This is a relief for the farmers. The state government has declared crop relief because the wait for drought relief funds from the Union government is causing difficulties for farmers,” the chief minister stated.

“Crop relief will be granted according to the NDRF norms, wherein farmers are eligible for relief for crops on only two hectares, regardless of the extent of loss,” he further said.

“In addition to crop relief, the state government is announcing ₹460 crore for crop failure and a midseason crop insurance for 6.5 lakh farmers in the state,” the chief minister did not disclose the burden it would cause to the state exchequer.

“The crop relief will be provided to eligible farmers in the 223 drought-hit talukas. The relief amount will be decided based on the crop and land,” Revenue Minister Byre Gowda said.

“We will provide a minimum of ₹1,000 to farmers. We will seek reports from deputy commissioners in all districts,” he added.

Related: Karnataka CM attacks Union government, PM Modi over alleged delay in providing drought relief

Siddaramaiah hits out at Union Government

While announcing relief for farmers, Siddaramaiah came down heavily on the Modi government for delaying the release of drought relief grants to Karnataka despite multiple appeals.

A total of 223 talukas have been declared drought-affected. The crop loss has been reported in 48.19 lakh hectares. As per the NDRF norms, the state government has sought ₹18,171.44 crore as drought relief and input subsidy of ₹4,663 crore for crop loss from the Union government,” the Chief Minister’s Officer (CMO) said.

“According to NDRF norms, farmers are entitled to receive ₹8,500 per hectare for rain-dependent lands, ₹17,000 per hectare for irrigated land, and ₹22,500 per hectare for perennial crops. Relief funds will be provided for a maximum of two hectares only,” it claimed.

Stating that the Union government was not responding to the Karnataka government, Siddaramaiah told reporters: “We submitted the first memorandum regarding drought to the Union government on 21 September. The central team assessed the drought situation in Karnataka on 4 October.”

Ministers for revenue, agriculture, and rural development, and panchayat raj detailed the severe drought situation to the Centre. The drought has affected not only Karnataka but also 12 other states in the country.”

“The Union government’s High-Level Committee (HLC) headed by Union Minister for Home Affairs Amit Shah has not chaired the meeting. When our Cabinet ministers went to Delhi seeking appointment of Union ministers for home affairs, finance, and agriculture, they did not give them an audience,” the chief minister alleged.

“When they did not give an appointment, I asked my Cabinet ministers to meet the secretaries of the departments concerned and detail the drought situation. They met and detailed. Then, the ministers for revenue and agriculture met Union Minister Nirmala Sitharaman and explained to her about the severe drought in Karnataka,” Siddaramaiah said.

“I have also written a letter to Union Minister Amit Shah seeking an appointment. He has not responded yet. Despite following up with the Union government for the past two months, it has not responded and released a single rupee to Karnataka,” he further said.

He also said that he has released ₹327 crore to meet the drinking water and fodder needs in all districts. “There is ₹780 crore in the accounts of deputy commissioners. I have given strict directives to all the deputy commissioners to ensure that there is no shortage of drinking water and fodder in their respective districts,” he said.

“The revenue minister is keeping a tab on this. Drinking water is being supplied through tankers in only 60 villages. We don’t have a shortage of drinking water and fodder. We have also prohibited the transportation of fodder to other states,” he added.