Bengaluru: The Karnataka cabinet sub-committee on disaster management has concluded that as many as 195 taluks in the state are drought-hit, Revenue Minister Krishna Byre Gowda said on Wednesday.
The list of drought-hit taluks will be notified, following Chief Minister Siddaramaiah’s approval. The state has a total of 236 taluks in 31 districts.
”As per the union government’s guidelines, following the survey, 161 taluks have severe drought, and 34 taluks have moderate drought. So, there is drought in 195 taluks,” Gowda, who heads the sub-committee said.
Speaking to reporters here, he said, there are 40 other taluks facing rain deficit, but the government is not able to declare them as drought-hit, as per Centre’s guidelines.
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“In these 40 taluks, when we look at satellite imagery, there is green cover or vegetative growth, and moisture distress is not seen. As these are mandatory requirements under the Centre’s guidelines, despite shortage of rainfall there, we cannot declare them as drought-hit,” he added.
Observing that 34 out of 195 drought-hit taluks have moderate drought, the Minister said, under the Centre’s guidelines, moderate drought is a separate category, for which they may or may not provide grants.
”However, considering that farmers are in distress and the condition of their crops are also deteriorating, the sub committee has decided to recommend declaring even these 34 taluks as drought-hit,” he added.
Gowda said, officials have been directed to prepare a memorandum to be submitted to the union government, regarding the drought in the next 7-10 days.
Noting that there are places, as per satellite imagery, where there is vegetative growth and no moisture distress, he, however, said the crop situation on the ground is disappointing.
”As we have these contradictory reports, we want to scientifically analyse this. So, the cabinet sub-committee has asked the state’s four agricultural universities and one horticulture university to study this and submit a report in 10 days,” he added.
Pointing out that once drought is declared, task forces will be constituted in the affected taluks, the Minister said funds will be provided to arrange tankers and rent borewells to supply drinking water.
Farmers will be given free fodder seeds for which Rs 20 crore has been sanctioned, he said, adding that the government is making all efforts proactively to respond to the situation and provide relief.
In the drought-hit taluks, the number of person-days under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act will increase from 100 to 150, Gowda said. The Rural Development Department will take steps in this regard.
Responding to a question, he said, Deputy commissioners have Rs 492 crore that they can use for drinking water supply. “We (government) also have Rs 400 crore ready. Money will be given if DCs request more.”
Rural Development Minister Priyank Kharge said the drinking water problem is not extreme as of now, ”but we are keeping watch.”
“RDPR department is giving Rs 1 crore to every zilla panchayat CEOs. Other than that under the contingency plan, Rs 7 crore has been released,” he said.