Belagavi: As the Karnataka Assembly session approaches in Belagavi on December 4, all eyes are on the Chief Minister, S. Siddaramiah, who has emphasised the need to address the pressing concerns of the North Karnataka region. With 50% of the 195 taluks in the region grappling with the aftermath of 2023’s monsoon failure, water scarcity for irrigation stands as a critical issue. The region, boasting the largest area under Kharif and Rabi crops nationwide, faces challenges ranging from inadequate irrigation infrastructure to an ongoing legal tussle over Mahadayi and Krishna river water sharing, leading to depletion of groundwater levels.
In the agricultural sector, North Karnataka farmers confront unpredictable weather patterns, insufficient infrastructure, and a lack of access to modern farming techniques. The absence of a cold storage chain for crops like potatoes and onions exacerbates the vulnerability of farmers to fluctuating market prices. Legislative activism has addressed similar issues in other agricultural regions, but North Karnataka’s challenges persist.
Infrastructure development, particularly in road connectivity, education, healthcare, and industrial sectors, has been a cause for concern in North Karnataka. While urban pockets in cities like Hubballi, Dharwad, Belagavi, Kalburgi, Haveri, and Bidar have seen progress, the health sector remains underdeveloped in suburban and rural areas. The economic disparities between urban and rural areas have prompted bipartisan calls for equitable legislation.
In education, despite progress, a significant urban-rural divide persists, affecting the quality of education and employment opportunities. Congress legislators aim to address this issue in the upcoming session, recognizing the need to improve vital sectors. Economic disparities among communities have been a longstanding concern in the region.
Preserving the distinct cultural identity of North Karnataka is also a focal point, with discussions revolving around regional autonomy and cultural representation.
On the crucial issue of drought relief, Chief Minister Siddaramaiah has announced a release of ₹226 crore for Haveri district, encompassing employment, drinking water, and fodder. The state government is conducting a crop loss survey, and compensation will follow NDRF guidelines. However, the release of similar packages for North Karnataka hinges on the quality of discussions and proposals from legislators across regions.
Additionally, delays in drought relief by the central government may feature prominently in the session. Siddaramaiah is set to address the severe drought affecting 12 states, expressing dissatisfaction with the central government’s failure to release funds despite the state’s tax contributions.
The Belagavi assembly session will also focus on creating 150 days of employment for unskilled workers under MGNREGA. As the region grapples with multifaceted challenges, this session is poised to be a critical juncture for addressing the long-standing issues plaguing North Karnataka.