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New K'taka CM meets PM; seeks Rs 2,000 cr central aid

July 17, 2012 21:33 IST
With Karnataka facing acute scarcity of drinking water and fodder due to deficient monsoon rains, new Chief Minister Jagadish Shettar on Tuesday met Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and sought an immediate Central assistance of Rs 2,000 crore to tackle the situation.

Heading a high-power delegation, Shettar made a strong pitch for extension of jobs under Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Gurantee Act for another 100 days to arrest migration of people from rural areas.

In his first meeting with Dr Singh after he was sworn-in last week, Shettar also demanded that a new study team be sent to the state to assess the latest situation and release interim relief. He told Dr Singh that due to failure of monsoon in 2011, 123 talukas under 24 districts were declared drought-affected and that the situation extended beyond the monsoon season of 2012.

"Fodder position has become precarious. Drinking water is being supplied through tankers in more than 700 villages and 300 wards in urban areas. An immediate central assistance of Rs 2,000 crore is requested to mitigate the situation," Shettar told the media in New Delhi.

Noting that people are migrating to different places in search of jobs due to drought, the chief minister said he requested the PM that jobs under MGNREGA be extended up to 200 days as against 100 days. He also said the kahriff crops have failed completely and ground water depletion has posed serious problems.

Shettar also noted that the government had released an amount of Rs 282.35 crore in June this year based on the report of the central inter-ministerial team.

"We have also requested the Centre to depute a Study team immediately to assess the latest situation and release interim relief," he said.

Shettar did not oblige journalists on questions relating to state politics. "I know," was all he said when asked about his ministerial colleagues being unhappy over portfolio allocation.

Major parts of Karnataka have not received sufficient rains. Barring coastal region, the rain deficit is 50 per cent in the state.

The monsoon is deficient by 23 per cent so far in the entire country affecting sowing of Kharif crops such as paddy, coarse cereals, pulses and oilseeds. Earlier, Shettar met Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar and placed similar demands.

"Karnataka has not submitted a detailed plan. They will do that in the first week of August. After that, we will send a team and then see what can be done. Karnataka is the only state that has asked for help so far," Pawar said after the meeting.

On Monday, he had said the situation in Karnataka and Maharashtra is worrisome and area under coarse cereals, especially jowar and bajra might get affected.


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