The 2019 floods in Karnataka are touted to have caused losses to the tune of Rs. 50,000 crore and around 103 taluks in 22 districts have been badly hit with over 6.9 lakh hectares of crop loss. Around 75,317 houses have been damaged due to the rains. Recently, Chief Minister B S Yeddyurappa was reported as saying, Karnataka awaits a surprise package from the central government as flood relief. However, one wonders if the surprise was to not release the proposed funds. As the Hindu Businessline reported, Karnataka is yet to get central assistance for flood relief and rehabilitation work even 45 days after widespread inundation. According to this report, “So far the State has only got help by way of NDRF (National Disaster Response Force), Air Force and Army assistance during heavy rains, landslides and flooding.”
The New Indian Express reported that the state government now has decided to shell out Rs 1,500 crore from its own pocket. The estimated loss caused by this flood is Rs. 35,000 crore. The question here is why is the central government not releasing the funds and why is the state government doing the same? The current BJP government in the state was desperate to form its government in the state. If not for the sake of people of the state, one wonders, why was the BJP so desperate to form its government.
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“The BS Yeddyurappa Cabinet on Wednesday approved Rs 1,000 crore for construction and repair of houses and Rs 500 crore for construction and repair of roads in the flood-ravaged districts,” reported the New Indian Express.
The report goes on to note that, “The Yeddyurappa government had made various representations to the Centre seeking aid for the damage caused due to floods. Despite personal review of the situation by Union Ministers Nirmala Sitharaman and Amit Shah as well as an assessment of loss by central teams, no aid has come so far. Karnataka had initially pegged the losses due to floods at Rs 38,451.11 crore, but was forced to trim it to Rs 35,160.81 crore after the Union Government’s insistence that private buildings be excluded from the assessment of losses.”
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In the absence of any aid from the Centre, it is being said that the state government is planning to use unspent funds from various departments, including from under the Schedule Caste/ Scheduled Tribe (SC/ST) sub-plan for relief and rehabilitation measures. The former government under H D Kumaraswamy had sought a total of Rs. 2,434 crore last year as drought relief. Following this, Union Home Minister Amit Shah in August this year had approved Rs 1,029.39 crore additional funds to Karnataka under National Disaster Management funds for drought relief. It is reported that the Yeddyurappa government is going to utilise Rs 338 crore from budgetary annual grants to Karnataka State Disaster Relief Fund.
This is not the first time that the central government is not releasing funds. Karnataka had sought for a total of Rs. 2,000 crore as relief fund for the floods in 2018, for which the central government had released just Rs. 546.21 crore. With this negligence by the central government and the state government, the plight of the flood affected remain unattended.
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