Bengaluru: Amidst the severe drought affecting Karnataka, the state government has assessed substantial losses reaching Rs 30,432 crore. Given this dire situation, Karnataka’s Cabinet has chosen to forward a formal request to the central government. They are seeking drought relief assistance amounting to Rs 4,860.13 crore, following the guidelines set by the National Disaster Response Fund (NDRF).
Addressing the media on Saturday, State Law Minister HK Patil provided important insights into the government’s actions regarding the crippling drought conditions. He revealed that 161 taluks were officially recognized as severely impacted by drought, while an additional 34 taluks were categorized as moderately affected. The cabinet’s unanimous decision to endorse this declaration has resulted in the plan to present a formal request to the Central Government for drought relief.
The total estimated loss of Rs 30,432 crore encompasses damages across various sectors. In accordance with the NDRF criteria, the assessed damage stands at Rs 4,860.13 crore. Notably, the agricultural sector has borne substantial losses, with crops worth Rs 27,867.17 crore devastated across 39.74 lakh hectares due to the drought. Within this figure, Rs 3,824.67 crore aligns with NDRF guidelines, and compensation is being requested for this specific loss.
Drought-related losses for horticulture crops are estimated at Rs 2,565.7 crore. The state government has also earmarked funds for various relief initiatives, including Rs 104.33 crore for cattle camps, Rs 126.36 crore for 624 fodder banks, Rs 25 crore for medicines, and Rs 50 crore for the distribution of fodder seeds. Furthermore, Rs 284.4 crore has been allocated to supply rural areas with drinking water for 180 days, while an additional Rs 213.98 crore has been set aside for providing 180 days of drinking water in urban areas. The total compensation sought under the NDRF criteria amounts to Rs 4,860.13 crore.
In response to the drought crisis, the Cabinet has introduced steps to legalize the installation of agricultural pump sets that were originally placed unlawfully between 2015 and 2023. However, Deputy Chief Minister DK Shivakumar emphasized that starting from September 22, no further regularization for illegally installed agricultural pump sets will be allowed. Over the last eight years, Eskoms have invested Rs 6,099 crore in capital for transformers and electric wires meant for these unauthorized pump sets, and this allocation has been officially approved.
Additionally, the Cabinet has approved a 50% subsidy for the state government’s initiative to convert pump sets into solar-powered systems, in line with the central government’s Kusum B scheme. Beneficiaries will be responsible for 20% of the conversion expenses, while the central government will contribute the remaining 30%.
Furthermore, the Cabinet has granted approval for the implementation of a vehicle disposal policy for government vehicles within the state. This policy involves the gradual retirement of government vehicles that have been in service for over 15 years, with a total of 15,295 such vehicles set to be decommissioned statewide. During the initial phase of implementing this vehicle disposal policy in the fiscal year 2023-24, 5,000 government vehicles will be retired, incurring an estimated cost of Rs 500 crore, or approximately Rs 10 lakh per vehicle, with Rs 100 crore earmarked for this purpose. Minister HK Patil highlighted that the central government will offer financial incentives in support of this initiative.