‘A milestone’: Karnataka CM hails SC’s ‘intervention’ to get Centre to provide drought relief funds


PTI, Apr 23, 2024, 8:31 AM IST

Image source: PTI / File

Bengaluru: Chief Minister Siddaramaiah on Monday expressed happiness at the Supreme Court “intervention” on providing drought management funds to Karnataka and termed it a success in his government’s fight to secure justice and relief for the people of the state.

The Centre earlier on Monday told the Supreme Court that the Election Commission has given clearance to it to deal with the issue raised by Karnataka regarding financial assistance for drought management.

A bench of Justices B R Gavai and Sandeep Mehta was hearing a plea filed by the Karnataka government seeking a direction to the Centre to release financial assistance from the National Disaster Response Fund (NDRF) to the state for drought management.

“The Election Commission has cleared the government to deal with this question. I think it will be done expeditiously,” Attorney General R Venkataramani, appearing for the Centre, told the bench.

He told the bench that the matter could be taken up next week.

“This should all be done amicably…we are having a federal structure,” the bench observed, while adjourning the matter.

Reacting to the development, the chief minister said in a post on social media platform X: “Thanks to the intervention of the Hon. Supreme Court, the Central Government, which had delayed providing drought relief funds to the farmers of Karnataka, has agreed to make a decision within this week.”

He added that Karnataka was forced to file a writ petition against the central government in court seeking drought relief funds, as it had not made a decision on the state’s memorandum submitted in September 2023.

“This is a milestone and a success in our long fight to secure justice and relief for the people of Karnataka,” Siddaramaiah said.

While hearing the plea on April 8, the apex court had observed: “Let there not be a ‘contest’ between the Union and the State.”

The Attorney General and Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, who were appearing for the Centre, had told the bench they would seek instructions in the matter.

The petition has also sought to declare that the Centre’s action in not releasing the financial assistance for drought arrangement as per the NDRF is “ex-facie violative” of the fundamental rights of the people of the state guaranteed under Articles 14 and 21 of the Constitution.

It said the state is reeling under “severe drought”, affecting the lives of its people, and that for the Kharif 2023 season, which starts in June and ends in September, a total of 223 out of 236 taluks are declared as drought-affected.

The plea said that 196 taluks are categorised as severely affected and the remaining 27 as moderately affected.

“Cumulatively for kharif 2023 season, the agriculture and horticulture crop loss have been reported in more than 48 lakh hectares with the estimated loss (cost of cultivation) of Rs 35,162 crore,” the plea, filed through advocate D L Chidananda, said.

It said that the assistance sought from the Centre under the NDRF is Rs 18,171.44 crore.

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