Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah pushes for urgent action on flood relief, pension clearances and welfare schemes

The chief minister addressed critical issues including flood relief efforts, pending pension applications, and farmer suicides.

BySouth First Desk

Published Jul 08, 2024 | 6:59 PM Updated Jul 08, 2024 | 6:59 PM

Karnataka CM Siddaramaiah, Deputy CM DK Shivakumar and other ministers during the meeting. (Supplied)

Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah convened a meeting with district collectors, Chief Executive Officers and other senior officials, on Monday, 8 July, and addressed critical issues including flood-affected villages, pending pension applications, farmer suicides and drought management strategies.

Highlighting that 2,225 villages and over 2,038,334 people face annual threats from floods and landslides, Siddaramaiah underscored the urgency of providing immediate compensation for 3,714 houses damaged in pre-monsoon incidents, as per SDRF norms.

He directed officials to identify distressed areas and implement sustainable relief measures, establishing 2,242 care centres for safer housing.

Task forces have been formed in the 27 districts, 177 taluks, and 1,247 gram panchayats prone to heavy rains. Nodal officers were appointed, and mock drills were also conducted.

District administrations have been instructed to take necessary precautions to avoid loss of life.

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Pending pension applications

The chief minister reviewed the list of pending pension applications and instructed deputy commissioners to settle them within a reduced timeframe of 30 days.

He emphasised the need for timely disposal of applications and questioned the reasons for delays. The disposal period of pensions, currently 45 days, will be reduced to 30 days.

Siddaramaiah stressed that delays in providing relief in farmer suicide cases would not be tolerated. He had expressed his displeasure over the delay in compensation during the last meeting.

He urged the deputy commissioners to act liberally and provide compensation without rejecting applications for minor technical reasons. He stressed the importance of supporting affected families promptly.

Out of 1,003 eligible cases, 994 families have already been provided compensation.

The chief minister also directed that a farmers’ meeting be held to create awareness and build confidence among the farming community.

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On BPL Cards

The chief minister noted that 80 percent of the state’s population holds BPL cards, compared to 40 percent in Tamil Nadu. According to Niti Aayog, the percentage of people below the poverty line in the state should be lesser, he noted.

Siddaramaiah called for the cancellation of ineligible BPL cards and the provision of cards to those who are genuinely eligible, ensuring fair distribution.

He emphasised that people should not be made to run from pillar to post unnecessarily.

The chief minister said that crores of rupees are paid every month in rent for sub-registrar offices operating in private buildings.

He proposed constructing government-owned offices to save annual rental expenses amounting to ₹40-50 crore per year and provide better amenities to the people visiting these offices.

Drought management

Lauding the improved drought management efforts this year, Siddaramaiah highlighted proactive water management strategies and identified 225 waterlogged villages for targeted relief measures.

Problematic villages regarding drinking water were identified early, and alternative arrangements were made. A transparent expenditure of ₹85 crore was highlighted, with ₹783 crore available in the deputy commissioner’s Personal Deposit (PD) account.

The state has received 7 percent more rainfall this monsoon season, and a total of 293 tmc of water is stored in all the reservoirs due to good rainfall.

Siddaramaiah stressed the need for officials to maintain close coordination with the Meteorological Department to enhance disaster preparedness and response and ensure timely interventions.

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Pending social security applications

The chief minister said that currently, 3,784 applications under various social security schemes are pending for settlement and said that they should be disposed of within 30 days.

The state provides pensions to 76 lakh people, the highest in the country. An additional 2 lakh cases are pending in National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI) mapping as directed by the central government.

Deputy Commissioners have been instructed to check pending pension applications and take immediate action to settle them.

Pensions should be stopped immediately after the death of a pensioner to prevent undue payments, he instructed.

Highlighting cases where land is being registered at prices lower than the guidance value, Siddaramaiah instructed the collection of outstanding royalty.

“This process is being undertaken for the first time in 30 years. As of March this year, 24,519 such cases amounting to ₹310 crore are pending, and the chief minister called for swift recovery,” a release from the Chief Minister’s Office said.

He also said that out of 4.34 lakh toilets in the state, 98,000 have been completed and instructed to complete the construction of another 2.86 lakh toilets promptly.

The chief minister instructed officials to assess the additional funds needed for toilet construction under NREGA and to review the installation of prefabricated toilet models.

Priority should be given to constructing community toilets where space for individual toilets is unavailable, he said.

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Cites lack of additional days

Siddaramaiah said significant progress has been made in the employment guarantee scheme under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act due to the drought.

He said, according to the Act, the Union government is required to provide an additional 50 man-days in drought-prone taluks, but this provision has not been fulfilled.

The chief minister also emphasised the urgent completion of construction work for school toilets, compounds, kitchen rooms, and playgrounds.

Steps should be taken to ensure these facilities are provided in all schools under the employment guarantee scheme, he said.

He also directed that utmost care should be taken to prevent contamination of drinking water adding that issues arising from polluted water would lead to direct accountability of the concerned officer.

“Corroded old pipes must be replaced, and water quality at both the source and distribution points should be tested every 15 days as mandatory,” the chief minister said and instructed that water supply should be sourced from a new location if the water quality test results were unsatisfactory.

Further, Siddaramaiah instructed officials that solid waste disposal units needed to be established across all districts promptly and that the tender process should be expedited at 55 locations where construction is underway.

Additionally, he directed to make sewage treatment plants operational to prevent sewage discharge into lakes.

The chief minister emphasised the imperative to prevent sewage from entering Mysore’s Dalwai Lake entirely.

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To set up new Indira Canteens

Siddaramaiah directed officials concerned to promptly identify plots for the construction of new Indira Canteens, which have already received approval.

He had sanctioned the establishment of new Indira Canteens at 70 locations within Bangalore city limits. The chief minister also emphasised expediting the tender process for the new menu.

The chief minister said that 33,803 works were sanctioned, and 23,714 works have been completed under the 15th Finance Commission grants.

“So far, ₹2,799 crore has been released under the scheme, and ₹1,883 crore has been spent,” he said.

Siddaramaiah said that tenders should be called within the next two weeks, and action should be taken to fully utilise the grant within the stipulated period.

He also instructed to fully recover the property tax arrears of ₹224 crores from last year.

₹806 crores have been collected till the end of June of the current year, but ₹1,053 crores of property tax are still pending recovery, according to the Chief Minister’s Office.

The chief minister stated that district collectors should undertake the collection of property tax in a campaign-like manner.

He also said that 24.01 percent of the grant under the Mukta Nidhi scheme must be allocated for Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe welfare programs.

(Edited by Shauqueen Mizaj, with inputs from Nolan Pinto)

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