The Karnataka government on Thursday said it will take a final call on the prevailing drought situation in the state after getting the ‘ground truthing report’ and pass an appropriate order.
The cabinet sub-committee on drought led by State Revenue Minister Krishna Byre Gowda has ordered a joint survey in 134 taluks and sought a report. Ground truthing refers to a survey of crops and other conditions in the region. Briefing reporters after the cabinet meeting, Law and Parliamentary Affairs Minister H K Patil said there was a discussion on the drought situation.
Noting that the ground truthing survey would reveal more information, the cabinet decided to wait for the final report before passing orders.
Patil also said that Chief Minister Siddaramaiah has written to the Centre pointing to a shortcoming in the parameters fixed for announcing drought. Earlier parameter said that any region was announced drought hit if there was 20 per cent deficit rain but after 2016-17, the Centre changed the norm, the Minister explained.
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The new parameter states that those regions will be called drought-hit where rainfall deficit is 60 per cent accompanied by a dry spell for three weeks.
“The Chief Minister has written to the Union Agriculture Minister (Narendra Singh Tomar) that this is not practical as it causes trouble to the farmers. You should immediately change those parameters,” Patil said.
He observed that the Centre’s parameters cannot be accepted.
Separately, the Cabinet also decided to order an inquiry into the purchase of clothes for school uniform under the Vidya Vikasa Yojane.
The topic came up during a discussion regarding the payment of pending bills for the scheme in 2021-22 and 2022-23 to Karnataka Handloom Development Corporation and Department of Handlooms and Textiles.
“About 90 per cent cloth material was substandard. Wherever there was substandard quality cloth, 100 per cent payment was made. In view of the irregularities, the cabinet decided to order an inquiry to identify those responsible for the supply of substandard clothes and initiate action against them,” the minister explained.
He added that after a preliminary inquiry, the managing director was suspended and action was initiated against him.
Among other cabinet decisions, the government also fixed a service duty of Rs 14.16 for the Shakti scheme smart card and extended the deadline to obtain the smart card by six months. Shakti scheme offers free bus ride to women belonging to the state in the non-luxury government buses across Karnataka.
The cabinet also gave approval to the state-owned transport corporations to purchase 1,195 new buses at a cost of Rs 500 crore.
Karnataka State Road Transport Corporation will buy 250 buses for Rs 100 crore, North West Karnataka Road Transport Corporation will procure 375 buses for Rs 150 crore, the Kalyana Karnataka Road Transport Corporation to purchase 250 buses for Rs 100 crore and the Bangalore Metropolitan Transport Corporation will buy 320 air-conditioned electric buses for Rs 150 crore.
Further, the cabinet resolved not to merge the Directorate of Cooperative Audit (DCA) with the Karnataka State Audit and Accounts Department. The Sixth Pay Commission had recommended their merger, Patil said.
An administrative approval was accorded to the Urban Development Department’s revised estimate of Rs 307.96 crore for the elevated corridor on the Koramangala Inner Ring Road. The project was planned in 2012-13. Also, administrative approvals were granted for a revised estimate of Rs 17 crore for setting up tertiary cancer care centre in the department of Mandya Medical College and revised estimate of Rs 162.80 crore to build super specialty hospital in Gulbarga Institute of Medical Sciences in Kalaburagi.