Karnataka accuses Centre of being anti-poor over the Drought relief funds

Bengaluru: Accusing that the Centre had failed to release dues of Rs 1,697 crore under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme to the State, the Karnataka government Thursday accused the Centre of being anti-poor.

Minister for rural development Krishna Byre Gowda said that the Central government had not released the dues under the MNREGA Act. 

Speaking to reporters, he said the scheme is meant for the economically weaker section in the rural areas. He further claimed the Centre was not supporting the state government in relief works.

Of the Rs 1,697 crore, which is yet to come from the Centre, Rs 856 crore is pending for the past three years. He said the amount was not a grant but related to works mandated under the Act, which comprises check-dams, Anganwadi and school compound walls. But because of Centre’s indifference the state government had to make payments in the form of loans. He further said the Centre was being partial. It had released Rs 4,000 crore to Maharashtra.

The election commission has exempted the state government from the purview of the model code of conduct for elections for carrying out drought relief works in the severe drought affected regions of the state.

Subsequently, the Karnataka government Thursday took decisions pertaining to drinking water supply, job creation and fodder for animals in arid regions. As a relief measure, each drought-hit Taluk has been given an additional Rs 2 crore whereas Rs 324 crore has been released for drought-hit districts, Gowda said.

While last year Rs 2,800 crore was given for drought relief work, this year Rs 3,600 crore action plan has been prepared and Rs 200 crore released immediately, the minister said.

“Some publications are repeatedly writing that the state government was not releasing the balance amount. It gives rise to questions whether you are advocating on behalf of the centre,” Gowda said.

NT Bureau