Karnataka Appeals to Supreme Court for Drought Relief

Chief Minister Siddaramaiah discloses legal action due to Central Government's failure in releasing funds for drought-hit Karnataka

Bengaluru: Having failed in its attempts to avail drought relief from National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) from the Central Government through requisitions, Chief Minister Siddaramaiah on Saturday disclosed that the State has knocked at the doors of Supreme Court asking the Apex Court to give directions to the Central Government led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi to immediately release drought-relief for Karnataka from NDRF.

At a press conference at his official residence ‘Krishna’ in Bengaluru, he said that “The State wasn’t interested in waging a legal battle over drought-relief against the Central Government but it became inevitable for the State to take the matter to Supreme Court (since Central Government did not respond to the repeated pleas).”

“We waited for release of funds by the Central Government and in waiting for the fund release, five months elapsed and there was no other way to avail drought-relief from the Central Government,” said the Chief Minister on moving Supreme Court over drought-relief release and stated that “The State has legal course over its legitimate share (in drought relief).”

Accusing the Central Government of violating law, Siddaramaiah said the laws are framed under the Constitution and "Any injustice has to be questioned in the Court and law is violated by the Central Government particularly Disaster Management Act, the Manual for Drought Management among others." In reply to a query, the Chief Minister said Kerala government moved the Supreme Court (over Finance) against the Central Government.

Explaining the efforts made by Karnataka to get drought-relief, Siddaramaiah said “Out of 240 taluks, 223 of them have been declared drought affected by the State Government owing to deficit rainfall the previous year. Among 223 taluks, 196 taluks have been severely affected by drought and assessment of damages owing to drought was conducted in the State four times before repeated appeals, asking for Rs 18, 171 crore as assistance from Central Government, were made to the Central Government asking for drought relief. But nothing substantial happened so far and the Central Government has not released any funds to tackle drought in Karnataka.”

He pointed out that crops in about 48 lakh hectares have suffered damages owing to deficit rainfall while appeals were made to the Central Government thrice asking for drought-relief.

Siddaramaiah stated without fund release from the Central Government, the State Government has released Rs 450 crore for released for fodder supply, Rs 870 crore for water supply in affected areas and Rs 800 crore is with the Deputy Commissioners to handle drought situation in the State while Karnataka should have got Rs 4,663 crore as input subsidy from National Disaster Response Fund (NDRF). As per the guidelines, he said, funds should have been released without wasting time but no funds have been released so far.

The Central Government led by Narendra Modi has not responded to the back to back pleas of the State Government, the Chief Minister said and stated that the Inter-Ministerial Central Team (IMCT) assessed drought situation in Karnataka last October and submitted its report to the Central Government. As the NDRF guidelines, funds should be released within a month after submission of the IMCT report but nothing substantial happened.

The Chief Minister said Ministers- Krishna Byre Gowda and Chaluvaraya Swamy met officials concerned in New Delhi seeking drought relief and later he said to have held a meeting with Union Minister for Home Amit Shah in December last year asking for funds towards tackling drought. Later on, the Chief Minister said he reminded Narendra Modi during his visit to Bengaluru this year on fund release to tackle drought but there was no response from the Central Government.

( Source : Deccan Chronicle )
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