‘Delay in drought relief to Karnataka not intentional’
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‘Delay in drought relief to Karnataka not intentional’

April 7, 2024

Bengaluru: Amid intense mudslinging over the delay in release of drought relief funds to the State from the Central Government, Union Finance Minister (FM) Nirmala Sitharaman has clarified that the delay was not intentional as the Centre was awaiting permission from Election Commission of India (ECI) to conduct High Power Committee meeting.

Addressing a press conference at the media office of State BJP in Malleswaram here yesterday, Nirmala said “By the time Union Ministries of Agriculture and Home verified the reports submitted by inter-Ministerial team of Officers, who had conducted a study of drought situation in the State, the elections were declared. Hence it was not possible to conduct a High Power Committee meeting without the permission of ECI.”

It’s not just about Karnataka, even the proposals to allot funds under Disaster Relief Funds for Telangana, Tamil Nadu, Sikkim, Mizoram, Assam and several other States are also pending before the High Power Committee. A decision in this regard shall be taken only after seeking the consent of ECI for the meeting, added Nirmala.

There is no provision for distribution of relief under National Disaster Response Fund (NDRF), without any reference to compensation, assistance and interim relief. While the subsidy is given for improvement of situation and input subsidy by the Central Government, clarified Nirmala, who read the contents of the Act.

While the State Government should carry out the task of providing emergency relief. The Centre even contributes its share of instalment for State Disaster Response Fund (SDRF) to provide the relief, with two instalments of Rs. 629 crore released to Karnataka in advance. So, there cannot be truth in the allegations of disparity in releasing drought relief funds being made by the State Congress Government, said Nirmala.

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She also lambasted Congress party for being adept in levelling false allegations. The 15th Finance Commission had submitted an interim report recommending a special package for several States including Karnataka. However, there were no such recommendations in the final report and neither any of the other States are raising such a demand, she added.

There was neither any recommendation for providing assistance to meet investment expenses of the States. However, keeping with the aspirations of PM Modi, the Centre has advanced interest-free loan to State Governments for a period of next 50 years. Why isn’t the Congress party speaking about this? asked Nirmala.

The PM has responded to the demands of Karnataka and we are hopeful that the people won’t lend ears to allegations, she said.

While it is good to hear the slogan ‘My Tax My Right,’ those raising the slogan lack good intentions. It is unfortunate that, those Congress leaders who are out on bail in cases of financial irregularities have mentioned about investigation agencies in their party manifesto, rued Nirmala Sitharaman.

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