Karnataka incurred crop loss of ₹35,000 crore due to drought, hope 2024 will be promising year: CM Siddaramaiah

By November 2023, a total of of 223 taluks — out of the total of 236 taluks in the state — were declared as drought-affected.

BySouth First Desk

Published Jan 02, 2024 | 1:17 PMUpdatedJan 03, 2024 | 4:08 PM

Karnataka CM Siddaramaiah meeting

Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah on Monday, 1 January, said that the state incurred a crop loss of ₹35,000 crore in 48 lakh hectares due to the drought and asserted that relief from the government will not be sufficient if nature does not support it.

Extending New Year greetings to senior government secretaries who met him on Monday, the Chief Minister hoped that 2024 would be a promising year for the state.

“We have incurred a crop loss of ₹35,000 crore in 48 lakh hectares in the state due to the drought. Relief from the government will not be sufficient if nature does not support us. We are facing this situation due to climate change. Good rains are expected during the monsoon in 2024. I pray to God for a good monsoon,” he said after exchanging greetings with the government secretaries.

By November 2023, a total of of 223 taluks — out of the total of 236 taluks in the state — were declared as drought-affected.

Also Read: Farmers wish for drought to get loan waiver, says Karnataka minister

Poll guarantees

Siddaramaiah stressed that the severity of the drought was less due to the state government’s poll guarantees.

The Chief Minister said that rain is necessary for development to reach the desired expectation. More than 60 percent of people are dependent on agriculture.

“It is because of our guarantees that the severity of the drought has been reduced. Poor families have gained purchasing power,” he said. He opined that although there is drought, its intensity has been reduced to some extent.

Quoting the universal basic income policy, the Chief Minister said that the income of the people has increased and economic activities have been given impetus.

“People have chosen us for the development of the state. The government has chosen the bureaucrats,” he said.

Siddaramaiah said that change in society can be brought only about with a pro-people and social approach.

“We have to work according to the people’s expectation and understanding the Constitution,” he said.

Also Read: Karnataka has to wait for Union government panel’s decision on quantum of drought relief

Seeking relief funds from the Union govt

On Tuesday, 19 December, Siddaramaiah, met with Prime Minister Narendra Modi in New Delhi and requested him to release drought relief funds amounting to ₹18,000 crore to the state at the earliest.

In his letter to the Prime Minister, Siddaramaiah stated that Karnataka has assessed the crop damage and is seeking an input subsidy of ₹4,663.12 crore from the National Disaster Response Funds (NDRF).

Around 48.19 lakh hectares of agriculture and horticulture crops have suffered losses ranging from 33 percent to 100 percent, with a majority of the areas reporting a loss of more than 80 percent.

Small and marginal farmers are the most affected, as about 83 percent of the land area under cultivation is covered under Small and Medium Farmholdings (SMF); hence, this land area is important to determine the input subsidy payable to the state, the Chief Minister’s letter stated.

Karnataka’s request is to consider the area under SMF holdings as per the Aadhaar-enabled FRUITS digital database and release the relief funds, Siddaramaiah’s letter stated.

The 2015-16 agriculture census shows that in Karnataka, 43.94 percent of the land area belongs to SMF holdings. However, as per the FRUITS database, 83 percent of the land is covered by holdings that belong to small and marginal farmers.

The Chief Minister also met with Union Home Minister Amit Shah in the same regard.

Also Read: ‘Crops in 48.19 lakh hectare affected,’ Siddaramaiah tells Amit Shah

Central team’s visit to Karnataka

On Friday, 27 October, Siddaramaiah questioned the Union government and Prime Minister Narendra Modi over the alleged delay in providing drought relief to the state and asked whether the BJP government was taking “revenge” on the state.

He pointed out that a Central team that visited Karnataka to study the situation was convinced about it, yet there was no response from Prime Minister Modi or the BJP-led NDA government.

The Karnataka government had, on 4 October, informed the 10-member, inter-ministerial central team (IMCT), which was on a four-day visit to take stock of the drought situation, that this time, the state was facing a “green drought” and requested that the assessment be made based on factors like crop growth and yield.

The IMCT, led by the Joint Secretary of the Department of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare, met the Cabinet Subcommittee on Disaster Management — consisting of the state’s Cabinet ministers and top officials — and followed it up by meeting Chief Minister Siddaramaiah.

“We have discussed the drought situation in detail with the Central team and have given them the entire picture of its effect, especially on the farmers and their financial condition. We have also shared with them information on crop loss, estimates of loss — in how much acreage, along with data, statics and spot inspection reports, for about two hours,” Revenue Minister Krishna Byre Gowda had said then.

A green drought is generally understood to mean a period when there is limited rainfall due to which there is growth of new plants, but the growth is insubstantial.

Also Read: Siddaramaiah seeks ₹18,177 Cr drought relief fund for farmers from the Centre

(With PTI inputs)