Karnataka Flood Relief Funds: Farmers Suffer Due to Lack of Crop Loss Compensation
Image Courtesy: The Economic Times
The flood affected parts of Karnataka have still not received the relief funds nor has any relief work started there. The B S Yeddyurappa-led Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government in the state had been waiting for a “surprise package” from the BJP government at the Centre. However, after two long months of waiting, the central government announced the release of just Rs. 1,200 crore as flood relief fund for Karnataka, as opposed to the total requested amount of Rs 3,000 crore. The floods in August in the state have caused a huge damage to housing as well as crops and agricultural land. The delayed and meagre allocations of funds by both the state and the central government have become a cause for concern in the state.
According to the Belagavi district administration, for example, the total loss caused by the floods in Belagavi alone is Rs. 11,000 crore. However, as per reports of Kannada daily Prajavani, the district has received merely Rs. 867 crore till date, due to which much of the relief work is halted. According to this report, Rs. 167 crore is meant for relief work, Rs. 500 crore for the primary level of repairs of the damaged houses and Rs. 200 crore to fix basic facilities. All the 14 Taluks of the Belagavi district were declared to be flood hit; and the district administration data shows that the damage caused to crops alone is worth Rs. 3,229.08 crore and housing is worth Rs. 2,996.58 crore.
According to the Prajavani report, 1,12,483 families have been given Rs. 10,000 each, while 3,000 families have not received this meagre amount as well. Even though as mentioned above, the crops and agricultural land have been hit badly; and crops grown in total of 2,21,428 hectares are destroyed, no relief fund for crop loss have been announced so far. Reportedly, six farmers have committed suicide in the district owing to crop loss and increased pressure to repay loans.
This is not the case only in Belagavi. Agriculture has been badly hit in several districts and funds have not been allocated to tackle these losses. In some cases, according to various Kannada regional media reports, there exists a huge difference between the estimation of the crop loss as calculated by the Department of Agriculture and by the National Disaster Relief Fund (NDRF). For example, this is the case in Uttara Kannada district. Following is the estimated losses of the agricultural land in 11 taluks of Uttara Kannada district according to the Department of Agriculture.
The total loss in the total of 504 villages is estimated to be Rs. 56.07 crore. However, as per the NDRF guidelines, one hectare can be allocated only Rs. 6,800. So, according to this calculation, the farmers in Uttara Kannada district will be getting only Rs. 7.14 crore. Even this amount has not been released. Civil societies in the state are demanding that the parameters of the NDRF should be changed. It has beem reported in Prajavani that the first survey by the district administration was done when the flood level was the highest and the level of damage was the highest. While the second survey in Uttara kannada district was conducted when there was a slight decline in the flood levels and losses. The crop loss has been estimated based on this decline.
Farmers across the state are protesting this serious negligence of crop loss and damage to the agricultural land, by both the state and central governments. On October 11, 2019, the Karnataka Rajya Raitha Sangha had organised a protest in the Vidhana Soudha, demanding the government to release relief funds for crop loss. The protesting farmers were stopped by the police and not allowed to reach Vidhana Soudha. Lakshman Sevadi, one of the deputy Chief Ministers met with the protesting farmers. Sevadi promised the farmers to take their demands to the CM and discuss them in the cabinet. Reportedly, the farmers demanded him to decide on the spot.
Sevadi who left the venue, returned to say that no announcement can be made as the Assembly session is on. The farmers are continuing their protest.
The farmers in the state are now demanding for a special package to be announced for the farmers affected by the floods. The protesting farmers are demanding that Kodagu district be declared as a national disaster zone, a scientific estimation of the relief fund needed by the farmers and increase in the current relief given by ten times. As many have lost their houses, they are also demanding houses and land for the affected and interest free loans from the co-operative banks.
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