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Centre assures SC to deal expeditiously with Karnataka’s plea for drought relief funds

Mangalore Today News Network

New Delhi, April 22, 2024: The Centre on Monday assured the Supreme Court the demand to release drought relief funds for Karnataka would be dealt with expeditiously after a clearance from the Election Commission.

Supreme Court

Attorney General R Venkataramani submitted before a bench of Justices B R Gavai and Sandeep Mehta that there was no need for arguments in the matter as something would be done.

He asked the court to post the matter for consideration on next Monday.

The court said this had to happen amicably, given the fact this is a federal structure.

Senior advocate Kapil Sibal agreed to the suggestion made by the Attorney General.

On April 8, the court had said the Centre and States should not fight over release of funds while considering a plea by the Karnataka government to direct the Centre to release Rs 35,162 crore for drought relief in view of "grave humanitarian distress" and "calamity" of severe nature faced by it.

In its writ petition, the Karnataka government said the Union government’s Ministry of Home Affairs has failed to take a final decision and release the financial assistance from National Disaster Response Fund (NDRF) to the state for drought relief, though six months have lapsed since filing of a report by the Inter-Ministerial Central Team (IMCT).

Notably, Tamil Nadu also filed a plea in the Supreme Court for a direction to the Centre to release a sum of Rs 19,692.69 crore as financial assistance for the damage caused by cyclone ’Michaung’ in December 2023, contending despite several requests funds were not made available in violation of fundamental rights of the affected people. Earlier, Kerala also filed a plea in the SC, questioning the borrowing limits by the Centre.

In its plea, the Karnataka government contended, agriculture is a primary source of livelihood for a large section of state.

The present drought situation has damaged crops and affected livestock, leading to lower yields, reduced income for farmers, and increased food prices. The situation has major economic impact resulting from losses in agriculture, impacting jobs, incomes, and overall economic growth of the State, it said.

The state claimed there was an inordinate delay by the MHA in convening high level committee meeting to approve the quantum of relief from NDRF.

The plea filed by advocate D L Chidananda contended the Centre’s action in not releasing the financial assistance for drought arrangement as per the National Disaster Response Fund (NDRF)is ex-facie illegal, arbitrary and violative of fundamental rights guaranteed to its citizens under Articles 14 and 21 of the Constitution.

The Centre has not convened the high level committee to take action on the sub committee of the national executive committee’s report on the memorandums submitted by the state government seeking financial assistance, which has impaired the fundamental right to life of the people of the state, it said.

Courtesy: Deccan Herald

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