Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah on Tuesday met Prime Minister Narendra Modi at his office in New Delhi and sought immediate release of Rs 18,177.44 crore compensation package to tackle the drought situation in the state.
Minister of Revenue Krishna Byregowda accompanied Siddaramaiah and held a detailed meeting. Siddaramaiah submitted a three-page letter to Modi and sought the assistance from the central government.
The letter read, “Dear Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Thank you very much for sparing your valuable time to meet me today. As you are aware, a large part of Karnataka is facing severe drought. Out of the 236 Taluks of the state 223 are declared as drought affected, as per the procedure laid down in the Drought Manual of 2020. Out of the 223 drought affected districts, 196 are severely drought affected."
It further read, "Around 48.19 lakh hectares of agriculture and horticulture crops have suffered crop losses ranging from 33 to 100%, with the majority of area reporting loss of more than 80%. Small and Marginal farmers are most affected, as about 83 % of the land area under cultivation is covered by small and marginal farm holdings. Karnataka has assessed the damage to the crops and sought an input subsidy of Rs 4,663.12 crores from NDRF."
"The average size of operational holding in Karnataka has decreased from 3.2 Ha in 1970-71 to 1.35 Ha in 2015-16. The average size would have further decreased in the last 8 years since 2015-16. Therefore, relying on 2015-16 data would cause great injustice to Karnataka," read the letter.
"If for some reason FRUITS data cannot yet be considered, then the GOI may consider projecting the area falling under SMF category and OSMF (Other than SMF) category based on past trends and updating the figure to 2023," the letter further read.
"The first memorandum seeking relief of Rs 4,860.13 crores was submitted to the Ministry of Agriculture on September 22, 2023. Following the submission of the Memorandum, the GoI deputed the Inter-Ministerial Central Team (IMCT), which visited the state during October 4-9, 2023. Subsequently, 21 more taluks were declared as drought affected. Therefore, a supplementary memorandum was submitted to the Ministry of Agriculture on October 10, 2023 seeking Rs 17,901.73 crores from NDRF which included a gratuitous relief claim of Rs 12,577.86 crores," the CM said in the letter.
"Following the declaration of drought, on November 4, 2023, in additional seven taluks, another supplementary memorandum was submitted to the Ministry of Agriculture, on November 15, 2023, taking the total claim of Karnataka to Rs 18,177.44 cores. Thus, the State Government is seeking drought relief of Rs 18,171.44 crores from the NDRF. The break-up of the claim is as follows: Input subsidy - Rs 4,663.12 crores; Gratuitous Relief - Rs 12,577.86 crores; Drinking Water - Rs 566.78 crores and Animal Husbandry Interventions - Rs 363.68 crores."
It is learnt that the sub-committee of the National Executive Committee, chaired by the Union Agriculture Secretary, met on November 13, 2023 and considered Karnataka’s memorandums and the report of the IMCT. The sub-committee, it is also learnt, has submitted its report to the Ministry of Home, which is expected to place the same before the High-Level Committee chaired by the Union Home Minister.
Siddaramaiah said, "It is nearly three months since we submitted our first memorandum and two months since the IMCT made its field visits. The farmers of Karnataka are in deep distress. Since crops have failed, it is necessary that we pay the input subsidy to the farmers soon so as to alleviate their hardship and suffering."
"Further, under MGNREGA, for the taluks where drought has been declared, the number of days of employment should be increased from 100 days per job card to 150 days per job card. A request for this has been made and the matter is pending in the Ministry of Rural Development for a long time. Kindly expedite a decision on this very important matter. I earnestly look forward to a positive response and an early resolution to the above issues, in the interest of the farmers of Karnataka,” the letter concludes.