With Karnataka seeing a 25 percent rain deficit, 161 among the 195 affected talukas are severely affected, and 34 are moderately affected.
The Congress government in Karnataka is likely to officially declare at least 195 talukas of 31 districts as drought-affected areas in a week or two.
The Cabinet subcommittee under the headship of Minister for Revenue Krishna Byre Gowda on Wednesday, 13 September, chaired a meeting on natural calamities.
It was decided there to recommend to Chief Minister Siddaramaiah to declare a total of 195 talukas as drought-hit areas in the state.
Among the drought-hit talukas, 161 are severely affected and the remaining 34 are moderately affected. The state has recorded a 25 percent rain deficit since the onset of the monsoon.
Gowda said the state government would, within 10 days, submit a memorandum to the Union government on the drought situation in Karnataka.
According to the Karnataka State Natural Disaster Monitoring Centre (KSNDMC): “Karnataka is facing an overall rain deficit of 25 percent since the onset of monsoon. The coastal and Malnad regions have reported a rain deficit of 24 percent and 40 percent, respectively.”
“South and North regions have recorded a rain deficit of 22 and 14 percent, respectively. Of the 31 districts, not even a single district has recorded normal or excess rainfall this monsoon,” claimed the KSNDMC.
Gowda told reporters about the decision to declare talukas drought-hit: “In the first round, we ordered the drought survey in 113 talukas. Among them, 62 were eligible to be declared drought-hit as per the guidelines of the Union government. But as per the information received from the farmers and elected members and Cabinet ministers, and deliberations in the Cabinet meeting, many more talukas have been severely affected.”
He added: “In the previous Cabinet sub-committee meeting, we ordered the crop survey in another 134 talukas despite these regions not fulfilling the guidelines of the Union government. We set a deadline of one week to complete the survey. We received a survey report. As per the Union government’s guidelines, as many as 161 talukas are severely drought-hit. Another 34 talukas are moderately affected.”
Gowda explained: “The Union government, according to its guidelines, considers these moderately affected talukas in separate categories. It may or may not give relief for such talukas. Considering the difficulty of farmers and conditions of the crops, we are also recommending these 34 talukas to be declared as drought-affected.”
Stating that the government would submit a memorandum to the Union government, Gowda said: “In the span of one week or 10 days, we will conduct another study on standing crops in the drought-affected talukas. We will review the report submitted by the officials concerned. The officials have been directed to make all the necessary preparations to submit a memorandum to the Union government on the state’s drought situation.”
He added: “In 40 talukas, there is a green cover but farmers are complaining about moisture distress. The farmers are in distress as the condition of the crops is very disappointing. We have decided to carry out a scientific study on this. We have directed four agriculture and horticulture universities to carry out a scientific study to verify these contradictions. The universities have been ordered to submit the ground report within 10 days.”
The minister also said: “Scientifically, there is vegetative growth, but there will be no yield in these crops. We are not able to fit these talukas in the Union government guidelines. Thus, we have decided to submit a scientific report to the Centre.”
He continued: “Once drought is declared, we have decided to set up a task force in each drought-affected taluka. This task force will take necessary measures to arrange for water and fodder. We have already released water for drinking and fodder purposes. If necessary, we will release more under the State Disaster Response Funds.”
Gowda also said: “The Karnataka government is making all the efforts to address the issues caused by drought to the people across the state. The Department of Rural Development and Panchayat Raj (RDPR) has also increased the working days from 100 to 150 days per person under Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA).”
BJP leader and former chief minister Basavaraj Bommai criticised the Siddaramaiah government for delaying the declaration of drought in the state.
Bommai told reporters: “The state government is delaying its announcement of drought for unnecessary reasons. They should have initiated the process immediately after understanding the situation from June onwards in the affected talukas.”
He added: “We are in September, and they are still hesitating to declare drought. Drinking water supply and provision of fodder for livestock should be immediately arranged in the affected taluks.”
He also said: “The farmers who have suffered crop losses need to be compensated immediately. This government is demanding changes in the criteria set by the central government.”
Bommai continued: “In our tenure, when floods occurred, we made relief announcements within a month and provided assistance accordingly. We also supplemented the relief given by the Central government with additional aid.”
He added: “If this government doesn’t provide appropriate relief to the flood-affected areas, there will be protests by the BJP in the affected talukas.”