Bengaluru, Dec 01, 2023: The Karnataka government on Thursday announced that it would pay the first instalment of crop loss compensation, of up to Rs 2,000, for farmers affected by drought. Chief Minister Siddaramiah accused the Centre of delaying the release of the funds even as Nirmala Sitharaman asserted there was "nothing pending" from the central government’s side.
Siddaramiah said the crop relief amount would depend on the area of the land owned by the farmer. The minimum amount to be disbursed will be from Rs 1,000, he said.
He said the crop losses in Karnataka stood at Rs 4,683.12 crore.
"The government has released Rs 450 crore for 6.5 lakh farmers. Apart from that, we have released Rs 328 crore for drinking and employment purposes. We have transferred Rs 780 crore to the district collector’s account," Siddaramaiah said.
Accusing the Centre of delaying drought relief to farmers, the Chief Minister stated, "Crop losses stand at Rs 4,683.12 crore. We asked for that amount from the Centre. But, not a single meeting was held by the Centre on this issue."
"We sent a memorandum to the Centre on September 21. We met the Centre team who came to inspect the drought situation," he said.
Siddaramaiah added Karnataka Revenue Minister Krishna Byre Gowda spoke to Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman about the release of crop loss compensation, but alleged that nothing had happened.
Earlier, the Chief Minister wrote to Sitharaman and sought financial assistance from the National Disaster Response Fund (NDRF) to tackle the severe drought in several parts of the state. Siddaramaiah said no amount had been given to Karnataka till now despite "mounting pressure".
The Karnataka government has declared 223 out of the total 236 taluks in the state as drought-hit.
"From my experience, I have noticed that drought hits Karnataka once in four years. Why can’t your 25 MPs speak to the Centre and grant us the funds?" Siddaramaiah said, attacking the Centre.
Pointing out that the state had witnessed a crop loss of an estimated 48.19 lakh hectares, the Chief Minister said, "Karnataka has sought financial relief of Rs 18,171.44 crore as per NDRF norms from the Centre. The crop loss compensation sought is to the tune of over Rs 4,663 crore."
SITHARAMAN HITS BACK
Hitting back at Siddaramaiah over his allegations of delay in releasing financial aid to drought-hit farmers, Sitharaman asserted there was nothing pending from the Centre to Karnataka.
"They have sent me the letter and much before the letter reaches me, they can put it on social media, the minister or the Chief Minister," she said.
The Finance Minister said Prime Minister Narendra Modi had been the Chief Minister for more than 10 years and said he knew what that it is for the states to get their money on time.
"I’m an MP from the state. I also have a responsibility. The state hasn’t sent me the required papers. I keep waiting for the letter to be sent. I can’t send the money without authorisation from the Accountant General. That’s the truth. These are allegations without facts," she said.
"For NDRF funds, there’s a committee that comes under the Home Minister. Karnataka Minister Krishna Byre Gowda met me. Even then, I had explained to him," she added.
Sitharaman asserted the money from the State Disaster Response Force (SDRF) was in the hands of the Karnataka government to spend. "It’s not as if money will not come. The Centre team did an assessment and submitted it," she said.
"For the North Karnataka farmers, I have asked the ITC group team to come and procure every stock that’s there so that we can put some money in the hands of farmers," she further said.
Courtesy: India Today