Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah on Tuesday met Prime Minister Narendra Modi in New Delhi and requested early release of a drought relief of Rs 18,177.44 crore from the Centre, and said the farmers of the State are in deep distress. The Congress government in the state has been critical of the Modi government alleging delay in releasing drought relief to the state, despite its repeated requests, and even after the central team of officials visiting and conducting inspections in various affected regions.
Karnataka government has declared 223 out of 236 taluks as drought-hit.
”It is learnt that the sub-committee of the National Executive Committee, chaired by the Union Agriculture Secretary, met on November 13 and considered Karnataka’s memorandums and the report of the Inter-Ministerial Central Team (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 in a memorandum to the PM.
”It is nearly 3 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,” he said.
Siddaramaiah was accompanied by Karnataka Revenue Minister Krishna Byre Gowda during the meeting with PM.
Chief Minister Siddaramaiah met Prime Minister Narendra Modi in New Delhi today and briefed him on the state's current drought situation. He requested a swift release of Rs 18,177.44 crore for relief measures.— CM of Karnataka (@CMofKarnataka) December 19, 2023
Of the total amount of Rs 18,177.44 crore, Rs 4,663.12 crore is… pic.twitter.com/JLNBieJfSQ
Listing out memorandums submitted to the central government seeking relief and the Government of India deputing the IMCT, which visited the state during October 4-9, the CM said in his memorandum to PM said, ”….total claim of Karnataka to Rs 18,177.44 crore.” The Rs 18,177.44 crore drought relief sought from National Disaster Response Fund (NDRF) include Rs 4,663.12 crore input subsidy, Rs 12,577.86 crore gratuitous relief, Rs 566.78 crore for drinking water purposes, Rs 363.68 crore for animal husbandry interventions.
Further noting that 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, Siddaramaiah said a request for this has been made and the matter is pending in Ministry of Rural Development for a long time. ”Kindly expedite a decision on this very important matter.” According to the state government, around 48.19 lakh hectares of agriculture and horticulture crops have suffered crop losses ranging from 33 to 100 per cent, with the majority of area reporting loss of more than 80 per cent.
The Chief Minister noted that small and marginal farmers are most affected, as about 83 per cent of the land area under cultivation is covered by small and marginal farm holdings, The land area under cultivation falling under Small & Marginal Farm holdings (SMF) is very important to determine the input subsidy payable to the state, he said. Karnataka has a robust digital database of farmers under the system called FRUITS (Farmer Registration & Unified Beneficiary Identification System).This system is Aadhaar enabled and therefore is very reliable.
Requesting the Centre to the consider the area under SMF holdings as per the Aadhaar enabled FRUITS digital database, the CM said, the trends since 1970-71 show that, due to constant sub-division and fragmentation of holdings, the number of SMF holdings, and therefore the area under such land holdings, has been increasing.
The 2015-16 Agriculture Census shows that in Karnataka 43.94 per cent of land area belongs to SMF holdings. However, as per the FRUITS database of Karnataka, 83 per cent of land is covered by holdings which are small and marginal, he said. ”It is therefore to request the Prime Minister to direct the High-Level Committee under the Home Minister to consider the number of and area under SMF holdings as per the FRUITS database of Karnataka.” The average size of operational holding in Karnataka has decreased from 3.2 Ha in 1970-71 to 1.35 Ha in 2015-16, Siddaramaiah further said. ”The average size would have further decreased in the last 8 years since 2015-16. Therefore, relying on 2015-16 data (agriculture census) would cause great injustice to Karnataka.” ”If for some reason FRUITS data cannot yet be considered, then the Government of India 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,” he added. PTI