Central team visits K’taka to assess drought

A central team arrived to assess the impact of drought in parts of Karnataka, where the Government has declared 99 taluks as drought-hit.

Last Updated: Dec 14, 2011, 18:14 PM IST

Bangalore: A central team arrived on Wednesday to
assess the impact of drought in parts of Karnataka, where the
Government has declared 99 taluks as drought-hit.

Replying to a debate on the drought situation in the
Legislative Assembly, Chief Minister D V Sadananda Gowda said
once the team files the report with the Centre after the
two-day visit, the State would take out an all-party
delegation to the Union Government to press for grant of funds
towards drought-relief works.

He announced sanctioning of Rs 36 crore for drilling
borewells in drought-hit areas.

Gowda said as on October end, the crop loss was to the tune
of Rs 4,544.84 crore, adding, as per the Central norms, a
memorandum has been submitted to the Union Agriculture
Minister Sharad Pawar seeking additional relief funds of
Rs 723.24 crore.

The Chief Minister listed various steps taken by the
Government from early October towards drought-relief works.

"Funds are available with Deputy Commissioners in districts
to take up relief works. There is no shortage of fodder
anywhere in the State," Gowda said, rejecting the Opposition
Congress and JDS charge that the Government lacked seriousness
in tackling the scarcity situation.

Gowda said 956 farmers have killed themselves in the State
since 2008 but added such suicides have come down
"significantly" in recent months. He gave farmers` suicide
figures of the neighbouring Maharashtra and Andhra Pradesh to
suggest that such numbers were lower in Karnataka.

Countering Gowda`s claim, leader of the opposition
Siddaramaiah (Congress), citing a magazine report that quoted
figures of the national and state crime records bureau, said
6,000 farmers had committed suicide in the state in the past
three years.

Farmers` suicides are counted only if they have land-
holding, have taken loans from cooperation sector or
commercial banks and it is proved they ended their lives
because of the loans they have taken, he said, asserting many
deaths don`t fall in this category.

"If you have funds, why have you not paid money to
farmers who suffered crop loss," Siddaramaiah asked.
He demanded that the government fund the crop insurance
premiums of small and marginal farmers as well as those
belonging to SCs and STs.

The Congress staged a walk-out from the House, with
Siddaramaiah saying the opposition members were unhappy with
the Chief Minister`s reply and the government lacked
seriousness in dealing with the drought situation.

PTI