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Congress Holds Protest in Karnataka Over Centre's 'Failure' in Handling Floods, Drought; Demands Interim Relief

In the petition to the PM through Governor Vajubhai Vala, the Congress leaders have demanded an aerial survey by the Prime Minister immediately, and special grant for drought-affected areas for this year.

PTI

Updated:August 29, 2019, 7:56 PM IST
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Congress Holds Protest in Karnataka Over Centre's 'Failure' in Handling Floods, Drought; Demands Interim Relief
A view of a flooded area due to overflow of Bhadra river following heavy rain, in Chikmagalur, Karnataka. (PTI Photo)
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Bengaluru: The Congress in Karnataka on Thursday held a day-long protest against the state and central governments alleging that they had failed in handling drought and floods in the state.

The party also petitioned Prime Minister Narendra Modi demanding that the situation be declared as "national calamity" and sought immediate release of Rs 5000 crore as interim relief.

In the petition to the Prime Minister through the Governor Vajubhai Vala, the Congress leaders have also demanded an aerial survey by the Prime Minister immediately, and special grant for drought-affected areas for this year.

In a letter handed over to the Governor, the Congress delegation including KPCC chief Dinesh Gundu Rao and CLP leader Siddaramaiah, said: "...the government of India has not yet declared the situation in Karnataka as national calamity.

No funds or special grants have been released out of national calamity fund."

Claiming that a report on damages has not been sent by the state to the Centre, and after "lapse" of weeks the union government had sent a team of officials, it said, "the study team made only flying visits to some flood-affected areas and they failed to assess real damages and to obtain the opinion of people in affected areas."

Also, highlighting the situation in drought-hit regions, the Congress said unfortunately, in spite of severe floods and drought, the state government has failed to deal with the situation and take the relief work on "war footing."

Noting that the Karnataka government has only released Rs 374 crore to meet this severe situation, it said, of this Rs 203 crore was released by the government of India as part of NDRF allocation fund of Rs 252 crore which is a meagre amount.

It said Congress teams had visited the flood-hit areas and the estimated damages was more than Rs one lakh crore.

Congress leaders including Rao and Siddaramaiah on Thursday held day long protest demanding immediate relief and action from the Centre.

Congress leaders warned that they would take the agitation to Jantar Mantar in Delhi. Addressing the gathering, former Chief Minister

Siddaramaiah alleged that the government was "absent" in the State though the Congress was always willing to cooperate with it.

"Our cooperation is there but you (Yediyurappa) have failed. There is no government at all. At least now start the relief work on a war footing. If you fail, then we will take our struggle to the streets," he said.

The Congress Legislature Party leader clarified that the purpose of the agitation was not to "trouble" the government but to "awaken" them to take measures on providing flood relief.

"It's more than 20 days since the flood hit the state. On the one hand, there is flood and on the other, there is drought," Siddaramaiah said.

Congress state president Dinesh Gundu Rao said if the government "remained in slumber" to provide any relief to the flood-affected people, the party would stage demonstration in the national capital.

Rao charged the Chief Minister with being "afraid" of seeking Central aid.

Yediyurappa had recently told an inter-ministerial central team visiting Karnataka to assess the damage caused by the recent floods that overall losses incurred was estimated to be more than Rs 30,000 crore. According to official data, as many as 103 talukas in 22 districts are flood affected, and around 7 lakh people were shifted to safe areas.

A total of 87 people have died due to flood and landslides in the state, where around 2.3 lakh houses are damaged, of which 1.79 lakh houses are fully damaged.

More than 7.82 lakh hectares crop loss is estimated in preliminary assessment, and 35,000 km of road, 2,828 bridges, 57,000 electric poles, 14,076 transformers and 3,724 power supply lines are severely damaged, official data showed.

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