Bengaluru, Sep 22, 2020: Floods have ravaged Karnataka for two consecutive years and the state government is facing a severe fund crunch to carry out relief and rehabilitation activities. Since August 1 this year, the state has suffered a loss of Rs 9,440.85 crore including destroyed crops, houses and infrastructure. Data provided by the government states that the estimated losses due to damaged crops and houses alone amounts to Rs 6,179.90 crore.
In August this year, heavy rains resulted in floods across 130 taluks in 23 districts. The rain had abated for a while but since last week, the floods have once again struck Udupi and Dakshina Kannada districts. The floods since August have resulted in destruction of crops in 3,57,426 hectares of agricultural land amounting to a loss of Rs 5,087.20 crore.
The damage to 52,759 hectares of horticultural crops amounted to a loss of Rs 370 crore. As much as 50,208 hectares of plantation crops worth Rs 549.62 crore were damaged. As of September 20, 13,573 houses were damaged resulting in a loss of 159.33 crore.
The damage to infrastructure this time around as well has been severe. According to data from the Karnataka State Disaster Management Authority, 21,173 km of roads were damaged. Apart from this, 3,546 km of state highways, 15,985 km of rural roads, 1,642 km of urban roads, 2,758 bridges, 786 minor irrigation canals, 503 man-made tanks, 2,669 government buildings, 118 water supply pipes and 219 drinking water pipes were damaged due to the floods this year. The total loss due to damaged infrastructure is pegged at Rs 3,260.96 crore.
The state government is expecting Rs 755.69 crore as a part of the State Disaster Relief Fund from the Centre. However, the severe fund crunch due to the spending on managing the pandemic, officials say, has left the government short on funds to allocate for flood relief.
Although Karnataka is one of the largest contributors to the Central coffers, the reductions in GST compensation, devolution of taxes, and the paltry amounts allocated for flood relief has crippled the state’s coffers. Despite its contribution, the state government has been left to pool in most of the funds for reconstruction and rehabilitation. The Centre, after assessing Karnataka’s vulnerability towards floods, allocated Rs 1,024 crore as the State Disaster Relief Fund.
“Of this, the first installment of Rs 790 crore was used for COVID-19. The second installment is awaited. We have requested the Centre for more money. A team from the Centre had surveyed the damage in August. Since the floods continue, another assessment needs to be done, which is underway. Once that is done, the Chief Minister will request for more,” the officer said.
According to the government, the Center had allocated Rs 1,869.85 crore for flood relief. This was after a survey was conducted and the loss was estimated to be Rs 35,160 crore. The state government has also scrapped several welfare schemes for the 2020-21 fiscal to pool in funds for relief and rehabilitation works for the 2019 floods.
Accordingly, the state government had sanctioned Rs 6,108 crore under different departments and in March this year, the government had spent Rs 3,423 crore of this fund. “Now, most of it has been disbursed. Several houses are also under construction. We had to ask Deputy Commissioners of all districts to short list beneficiaries most in need of compensation. All those who lost homes were given relief. When we have limited resources and the damage is so huge, how do we allocate to each person who applies for relief? We have done our best in such a situation,” a senior IAS officer said.
He further stated that Rs 10,000 compensation was given to each farmer who suffered crop loss and that construction and repair of 1,25,795 damaged houses was taken up. “For reconstruction we provided financial assistance of Rs 5 lakh to completely damaged houses, Rs 3 lakh for those whose houses had seen substantial damage and Rs 50,000 partially damaged houses. We also gave compensation of Rs 50,000 to those who had to shift to rented houses as theirs were destroyed,” he said.
According to the KSDMA, between 2009 and 2019, the state had suffered loss due to floods to the tune of over Rs 55,000 crore. However, between 2009 and 2019, the state received only Rs 4,365 crore as compensation. “The Centre allocates money based on its own calculations and they never pay the entire amount of loss that is estimated. It is up to the states to manage floods,” the senior officer said.
Courtesy:The News Minute