The government on Thursday directed the Karnataka government to submit a revised report on the severe drought prevailing across the state and funds required from the Centre to take up additional relief works.
Union Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar, who was here to assess the drought situation in Karnataka, said an amount of Rs 286 crore under the National Rural Drinking Water Supply and Rs 334 crore under Watershed Management Programme would be disbursed to the state as a measure to overcome the drought situation.
“We have asked the state government to submit a revised memorandum on the drought situation in the state, including losses suffered due to deficit rainfall till July 31 and funds required,” Union Rural Development Minister Jairam Ramesh told reporters after Union Pawar held a two-hour long meeting with chief minister Jagadish Shettar, cabinet ministers and officials here. Pawar, who is on a tour of four drought-hit states in the country, including Maharashtra, Gujarat and Rajasthan with Ramesh and a 12-member official team since Wednesday, reviewed the drought situation in Karnataka and measures taken to tackle the crisis, as the south-west monsoon remained tardy resulting in around 33 per cent rainfall deficiency across the southern state.
Pawar said, so far, Rs 71 crore under the National Rural Drinking Water supply has been disbursed and the state demand for more assistance under this scheme would be discussed in New Delhi at the Group of Ministers meeting being held in the second week of this month. “The central government is ready to release Rs 700 crore immediately under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (NREGA) scheme to provide jobs to people in the drought-hit areas of the state,” Ramesh said. Ramesh said that it was suggested during the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Assistance Scheme (NREGA) be amended in respect of 100 days to 200 days for the drought-affected areas. But, a consensus has been arrived at for raising the number of days to 150 days instead of the present 100 days.
“Drought situation in Karnataka is worst in the last 40 years. To tackle the situation, the state has demanded Rs 5,000 crore under the MGNREGA with 150 labour days per person. Once we receive the revised memorandum from the state, the Union ministry of rural development will take up the matter during the GoM meeting next week,” he said.
Earlier, the state government made a power-point presentation to the central team, highlighting the stark facts on the grim drought situation due to the about 40 per cent rain deficit in 102 revenue sub-divisions (taluks), crop losses in 230,000 hectares, over 2,500 irrigation tanks going dry and fodder shortage in 10 districts. “Rain deficiency in the three regions of Karnataka was 21-44 per cent in the first two months of the monsoon period, with the south interior areas being the worst-affected. We have declared drought in 25 of the 30 districts across the state due to scanty rainfall in 415 hamlets and nil rainfall in 88 villages spanning 142 local bodies,” an official of the state disaster-monitoring centre said.