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Karnataka government fears new drought norms would cut central aid to it

The Karnataka government today apprehended that the Centre’s revised ‘Manual for Drought Management 2016’ would “drastically” reduce the central aid to it and further increase hardship of farmers.

Karnataka government fears new drought norms would cut central aid to it
In a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Chief Minister Siddaramaiah said the "stringent" norms for drought declaration would make it difficult for the state government to categorise taluks. (Image Source: IE)

The Karnataka government today apprehended that the Centre’s revised ‘Manual for Drought Management 2016’ would “drastically” reduce the central aid to it and further increase hardship of farmers. In a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Chief Minister Siddaramaiah said the “stringent” norms for drought declaration would make it difficult for the state government to categorise taluks even with significant crop loss as severely drought-affected. Pointing out that the manual brought out by the Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare would be effective from Kharif 2017, he requested Modi to make necessary changes to it to enable genuinely-affected farmers avail the input subsidy for crop loss from the National Disaster Response Fund. “Some of the parameters for declaration of the drought and eligibility to get assistance have been changed. It is understood that the stringent parameters / eligibility conditions will make it difficult for the state government to declare taluks with significant crop loss as severely drought  affected,” Siddaramaiah said.

The chief minister said it would drastically reduce the central assistance in future and added that it would further increase the hardship of farmers.
Noting that Karnataka has been facing frequent droughts, he said that central government aid under NDRF/State Disaster Response Fund has been insufficient and caused the state to spend significant additional amount on relief measures. “It is learnt that as per the revised manual, only taluks coming under severe category shall be considered for providing relief from NDRF. This being the case, most of the genuinely- affected small and marginal farmers will not be able to avail of input subsidy for the crop loss and it will go against the grain of the scheme,” he said. Informing reporters about Siddaramaiah’s letter to Modi, Law and Parliamentary Affairs Minister T B Jayachandra said the issue was discussed in detail at the Cabinet meet today.

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“We had this year declared 160 taluks as drought hit. If we go according to these new norms, only 38 taluks will be eligible,” he said. Stating that the new norms would affect Karnataka, he said the previous criteria was dry spell, rainfall and others, but it now says the deficit should be 50 per cent or above. Siddaramaiah charged the Centre with divesting it’s responsibility on Karnataka and said the government would write to all Members of Parliament from the state and also lead a delegation to the Prime Minister, if required.

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First published on: 26-07-2017 at 20:44 IST