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Siddaramaiah seeks reassessment of disaster relief fund allocation to states

LiveMint logoLiveMint 19-07-2017 Sharan Poovanna

Bengaluru: Karnataka chief minister Siddaramaiah on Wednesday wrote to Prime Minister Narendra Modi seeking a reassessment of state disaster relief funds (SDRF) allocated to each state under the 14th Finance Commission and urged the Centre to allocate based on vulnerability risk profiles in the successive commission.

Siddaramaiah’s letter comes at a time when the state is staring at a third consecutive drought year after deficient rainfall in the month of June affecting farming activity as well acute drinking water shortage in most parts of the state.

“I would also like to insist that the Union government is duty-bound to ensure that disparity in SDRF allocation is removed even if it amounts to revisiting the recommendations of the 14th finance commission for the re-allocation of SDRF,” Siddaramaiah said in his letter on Wednesday.

With over 60% of its total area drought prone, Karnataka has faced 13 droughts in the last 16 years (2001-2016). During the same period, the state has faced nine flood years (across many regions) and five instances of hail storms that have destroyed crops, damaged life and property in the state.

The Karnataka government had even announced a crop and short-term loan waivers for farmers who have borrowed up to Rs 50,000-totaling Rs 8,165 crore-last month to provide some relief to the farming community that have faced two successive droughts and declining agricultural activity.

The chief minister said that states like Andhra Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu and Gujarat had a higher allocation despite them being less vulnerabile than Karnataka. Under the 14th finance commission recommendations on SDRF allocations, Maharashtra has been allocated Rs8195 crore, Gujarat Rs3894 crore, Tamil Nadu Rs3751 crore, undivided Andhra Pradesh Rs2430 crore and Rajasthan Rs2153 crore.

Siddaramaiah said that the Karnataka-with its geographical disadvantages-has been allocated only Rs 1435.95 crore out of the total Rs 43,750 crore or 3.2% of total allocation for calamity relief from 1990-2005. The allocation further slipped to 2.4% from 2015-20, despite increasing frequency of disasters and higher spending from the state government towards disaster management.

“In the interest of small and marginal farmers, I remain convinced that you would cause the whole methodology of allocation to be re-examined so as to provide equitable allocation of SDRF to Karnataka,” Siddaramaiah said.

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