The Karnataka government has sought Rs 1788 crore from the Centre in what it calls a 'proactive' step to deal with possible labour crisis in the state owing to deficit rainfall this year.
In a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah points out that the reservoir levels in even south interior Karnataka and Malnad areas are less than 50% of their normal capacities. Sowing in these areas has reached only 60% with the initial assessment indicating that the crops sown are expected to have stunted growth.
Nidheesh MK reports for Mint that of the total Rs 1788 crore, Rs 288 crore amounts to settling of dues the Centre owes on account of non-release of wage share towards MGNREGA programmes in Karnataka since 24 June. Rs 500 crore is for labour and material payments until September end, and the remaining Rs 1,000 crore for wages and material payments for the entire fiscal year 2016-17.
The report states that the request for Rs.1,788 crore was made in order to make timely payments for jobs under Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarentee Act (MNREGA), as the state government finds it difficult to finance it anymore.
Last yearâ€™s drought in which the state is reported to have spent 240% more than the budgeted amount for the scheme, along with 56% of labour budget of the current year, may have been instrumental in the state government seeking Rs 1788 Cr from the Centre. The state had to shell out an additional Rs 450 crore after there was delay in wage payment by the Centre.
Anticipating loss of jobs for farmers associated with the paddy sector this year, agriculture minister Krishna Byre Gowda told Mint that â€śit was a way of acting proactivelyâ€ť, though the state has not declared drought yet.
â€śThere is still time to declare or not declare drought. The rainfall may improve, but paddy areas are already affected. So we are recommending this as an alternate measure,â€ť Gowda was quoted as saying.