Worrying that Bengaluru suffers from water-related issues: Nirmala Sitharaman

Responding to the delay in drought relief funds, Sitharaman said the release of funds has to go through a few procedures.


Published Apr 07, 2024 | 9:42 AMUpdatedApr 07, 2024 | 9:42 AM

Nirmala Sitharaman in Kerala

Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, on Saturday, 6 April, hit out at the Siddaramaiah government over the water crisis in Bengaluru and alleged that many irrigation and water-related projects and initiatives were halted by the Congress when it came to power in Karnataka last year.

She also criticised the Congress government for the allegedly deteriorating law and order in the state.

Addressing a press conference in Bengaluru, the Union Minister said it is very worrying and sad that the city suffers from water-related problems.

“Just water not being available is a problem. Since yesterday, reports of unfortunately cholera possibly spreading in the town is also a very big concern…It is sort of a worry but I think it is also somewhat because people don’t have enough water available, contaminated water also reaches people and as a result, they are put to difficulties,” she said.

Also Read: Two confirmed cholera cases at BMC girls’ hostel

Sitharaman hits out at Karnataka Congress

Blaming the state government for halting irrigation and water-related projects, Sitharaman said various steps that have been taken till recently or the initiatives which were halted by the current government in Karnataka also showed that there has been mismanagement in water-related areas.

She alleged that in May 2023, the Chief Minister halted tenders worth ₹20,000 crore for projects, including the Visveswaraya Jala Nigam Limited, Karnataka Neeravari Nigam Limited, Cauvery Neeravari Nigama Limited, and Krishna Bhagya Jala Nigam Limited. She also wondered why the Union government’s “Jal Jeevan Mission” was not being encouraged in the state.

“For a city like Bengaluru, which is cosmopolitan and a global city, we have just hurt ourselves by these kinds of knee-jerk steps for whatever reasons the Karnataka government has taken,” she said.

“When pro-Pakistan slogans are raised in the Karnataka Assembly, there is implicit support which is being extended…It is a very big signal saying it’s alright we can do anything and get away with it,” Sitharaman alleged.

She cited the Rameshwaram Cafe blast in Bengaluru and said, “While the NIA is constantly putting out reports that the search is intensified, incidents like raising of pro-Pakistan slogans in the assembly showed that a false sense of protection is being extended to people who perpetrate violence.”

Hitting out at state Health Minister Dinesh Gundu Rao, she said, “Here is a responsible minister belonging to that very same party which coined the word ‘Hindu terror’ now revealing the identity of a witness. Will he protect him?”

Also Read: Water supply to Chinnaswamy stadium for IPL amid water crisis: NGT issues notice

Drought relief funds

Responding to a question about the delay in drought relief funds, she explained that the Karnataka government had submitted a memorandum in October and the inter-ministerial central team had come here and conducted a spot assessment.

Seeking to defend the Centre, Sitharaman said the release of drought relief has to go through a few procedures and that it had taken time.

She said that on 28 March, the central authorities had written to the Election Commission to get prior approval in the context of the Model Code of Conduct for convening the high-level committee. The EC’s approval is awaited with regard to the grant of drought relief, she added.

Sitharaman slammed the remarks by Congress MLA Shamanur Shivashankarappa against BJP’s candidate for the Davanagare Lok Sabha seat Gayathri Siddeshwara and said, “Such words are absolutely unacceptable. Women and their dignity don’t matter to the Congress party.”

Shivashankarappa had recently courted controversy by passing an allegedly sexist remark about Siddeshwara, saying that she is only “fit to cook”.

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