Drought-hit Karnataka seeks central funds for relief works

Bengaluru: Reeling under severe drought and delay in the onset of monsoon rains, Karnataka has sought Rs 1,500 crore from the Central government to fund relief works in the state, an official said on Sunday.

“Chief Minister H.D. Kumaraswamy has urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi in New Delhi on Saturday to release Rs 1,500 crore to the state under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MNREGA) scheme for the various relief works underway in the 26 drought-hit districts across the state,” the official told IANS here.

In his first interaction with Modi after he returned to power with a thumping majority for the BJP in the recent Lok Sabha elections, Kumaraswamy told the Prime Minister that the state government had submitted a report on the grim situation in 160 of the 196 local bodies across the southern state due to 45 per cent deficit rains last year and weak pre-monsoon showers this year.

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“Our revenue department has also sent a report to the Union Home Ministry in March with a copy to the Prime Minister’s Office, seeking financial aid (Rs 2,064 crore) to pay drought-hit farmers and rural folk reeling under last year’s drought and weak pre-monsoon spell in the last three months,” the official recalled.

In this context, the Chief Minister also brought to Modi’s notice his Janata Dal-Secular (JD-S) and Congress coalition government’s efforts to provide relief to thousands of farmers by waiving their crop loans and interest.

“The state is working on waiving Rs 12,830 of crop loans of 23 lakh farmers in the state, as part of the assurance the ruling allies gave in the pre-poll manifestoes ahead of the general elections,” recalled the official in the Chief Minister’s Office.

The Chief Minister also met Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman and urged her to clear pending grants to the state from the Centre.

“Kumaraswamy has also requested Sitharaman to hire only local candidates for the regional rural banks in the state for ease of doing business in the native language (Kannada) in the state,” added the official.


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