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Karnataka Govt to Spend Rs 20 Lakh to Pray For Good Monsoon

A special provision for the cost of the pujas was made this year to bear the cost of pandals, priests, puja materials and, of course, prasad.

Deepa Balakrishnan | CNN-News18deepab18

Updated:June 2, 2017, 6:52 PM IST
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Karnataka Govt to Spend Rs 20 Lakh to Pray For Good Monsoon
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Bengaluru: You may have heard of bizarre practices like villagers marrying off frogs to appease the rain gods. But ever heard of a government spending lakhs for such rituals?

After the third consecutive year of drought, the Karnataka government has decided to spend Rs 20 lakh to pray to the rain-gods, notwithstanding the Met Department's prediction of a normal monsoon this year.

The Government-run Krishna and Cauvery Irrigation Boards have made a proviso for pujas for ten lakhs for each river, and the pujas will be held on Friday and Sunday, government sources told CNN-News18.

Incidentally, this comes three months after the State government sought over 4000 crores in drought relief when nearly 80 per cent of the taluks were hit by a severe drought.

Water Resources Minister M B Patil, who is personally going to Mahabaleshwar for the first puja on Friday, told News18 in a telephonic interview that this is being done as "both rivers are like the two eyes of Karnataka, all 6 crore people of the State are attached to the rivers."

A special provision for the cost of the pujas was made this year to bear the cost of pandals, priests, puja materials and, of course, prasad.

"What is wrong in a puja? There are governments that spend crores on Ganga pujas, hundreds of crores are spent on the Godavari pushkarni, why don't you question those? We all want rain, right? And we may not spend ten lakhs, that is just a provision. The cost may be just four or five lakhs. The MD of the Boards, the chief engineers will all be there, they will take care of it," Patil told News18.

It's just a bonus of course that the pujas are happening in the picturesque locales of Mahabaleshwar near Pune and Bhagamandala near Coorg -- the catchment areas or origin points of the two rivers -- and this entire entourage of officials and minister will go for it at tax-payer's cost.

Asked whether he did not believe in the Met department's prediction of a normal rainfall, Patil said he "wished" the Met department's forecasts come true.

"We also wish for the Met department forecast, but they said above-normal monsoon last year, did we get above-normal? Somewhere in all our minds we felt we should offer our prayers," Patil said.

Interestingly, a staunchly non-superstitious chief Minister Siddaramaiah told reporters in Mysore that he has never believed in yagnas and pujas.

"You cannot get rains just because you do some puja. I have never done pujas, nor will I start doing now. If a minister has taken this up, it hasn't come to my notice," he said.

Patil however took this in his stride. "The CM does not believe in yagnas. We are not doing yagnas, we are doing pujas (rituals) and prarthanas (prayers)," he said.

However, a day later, the minister said that he was hurt by the reports claiming such an exuberant cost of Pujas, adding that he and his friends will bear the total cost of the two Pujas.

"All elected representatives from the Cauvery region and a religious mutt head agreed to participate in this Puja. The exercise is being undertaken for the welfare of farmers and to fulfil drinking water needs."

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| Edited by: Swati Sharma
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