Bangalore: With the state reeling under severe drought for the second consecutive year, the Karnataka government has drawn an action plan for providing succour to the affected people, including farmers, Chief Minister Jagadish Shettar said on Wednesday.
"We are facing the worst ever drought in the past four decades due to the failure of rains during both kharif and rabi reasons. Water in reservoirs has reached precarious levels. We have drawn an action plan to implement the relief works on war-footing," Shettar said after unfurling the tricolour and taking salute to mark the 66th Independence Day here.
Addressing about 8,000 people gathered at the Field Manekshaw Parade Grounds in the city centre, Shettar said the state government has set up three teams headed by the two deputy chief ministers (K.S. Eshwarappa and R. Ashok) and himself to supervise the implementation of relief works and major development schemes.
"The chief secretary (SV Ranganath), additional chief secretary and development commissioner will assist the teams, which will review the progress every fortnight in implementing the relief measures and major schemes benefiting the drought-hit," Shettar said in his 20-minute speech.
Noting that the drought situation was still alarming despite belated rains across the state during the last fortnight, the chief minister hoped the situation would improve if the revived monsoon remained active till next month.
"It is a good sign that our farmers have taken up sowing operations following widespread rains during the last two weeks. Though only short-term crops can be grown, kharif is almost a failure this year. In view of this critical situation, we are giving special attention to step up drought relief measures," Shettar asserted.
The measures being implemented at a cost of Rs.2,250-crore include jobs for the needy under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS), drinking water supply in 762 villages through 1,157 tankers, setting up of 128 cattle camps with 87 fodder banks and waiver of farm loans to the tune of Rs.3,600 crore.
Patriotic fervour and cultural fiesta marked the historic day across the state, with thousands of people from all walks of life participating in the annual event.
After Shettar`s speech, the gathering was treated to an hour-long cultural programmes, including singing of the state anthem `Nada Geetha`, folk music and dances featuring sacrifices by hundreds of freedom-fighters and a judo contest.
About 2,000 police personnel, including about 100 senior officers were deployed in and around the parade ground to provide security and prevent any untoward incident.