CM made to believe all is well

Whatever may be the ground reality regarding drought and lack of drinking water in many parts of the State, officials from the districts always maintain that there is no problem on ground zero. This is what they made Chief Minister D V Sadananda Gowda also believe on Wednesday.

Gowda held video conferencing for nearly three hours with deputy commissioners (DCs) of all 30 districts to review the drought situation, in Bangalore.
 
Rural Development & Panchayat Raj Minister (RDPR) Jagadish Shettar and Urban Development Minister Suresh Kumar were also present.

“Has there been any negative reportage by the media about non-supply of drinking water in your district, when in reality there is no problem? If yes, then issue a clarification the very next day and highlight the measures taken,” Gowda told the DCs.

After the review meeting of relief works taken up to tackle the drought situation in 123 taluks, Gowda declared “all’s well.” 

Later speaking to reporters, Gowda said the drought-hit districts neither faced funds crunch nor water problems.

“The deliberations have revealed that there is no major drinking water problem in any of the districts. There are some minor glitches, which will be rectified immediately. I have also indicated that if there is a funds shortage, the DCs can use the unutilised funds under Aasare, Calamity Relief Funds (CRF) and those under other schemes,” he added.

When asked whether he would take an all-party delegation to New Delhi to appeal to the Centre to release Rs 2,600 crore sought by the State to tackle drought, Gowda hesitantly said he would.

Suresh Kumar, at one point, seemed rather surprised that the media was continuously writing negative stories. In reply to the Hassan DC’s remark: “There is no drinking water problem in the district,” Kumar said: “The DCs are claiming that there are no problems –then how is it that media is getting all these stories?”

Officials to be pulled up

The chief minister cautioned officials of the districts that they would be pulled up in the event of complaints about non-supply of water. “The DCs and ZP CEOs will be held responsible if there are complaints with regard to drinking water or cattle fodder,” he added. He said presently, Rs 132.67 crore was available with the DCs; Rs 84 crore under CRF and Rs 9 crore under RDPR.

Shettar not impressed

Jagadish Shettar was anything but amused when he heard the excuses given by the deputy commissioners and ZP CEOs of the 30 districts, over the non-utilisation of funds allocated under MGNREGS for drought-affected districts.

The Minister, who was present at the review meeting by the chief minister, expressed displeasure over the “bad performance” by the district officials.

Of the Rs 2,153 crore approved in the budget, the districts have spent only Rs 1,265 crore, accounting for only 58.74 per cent.

Shettar pulled the deputy commissioners of Bellary, Chikkaballapur, Kolar, Tumkur and Mysore for performance rating of 40 per cent and below.

Tumkur has spent the least of the MGNREGS funds for drought-hit districts - 23.30 per cent. It has also recorded the lowest percentage of ‘man days’ – 8.84.

The district is closely followed by Kolar which has recorded only 25.15 per cent. The other districts with poor performance are – Bellary – 31.56; Chikkaballapur – 31.11; Hassan – 39.46 and Mysore – 36.41.

The total percentage of man days recorded is 28.12 per cent.

On the brighter side, districts like Chikmagalur and Davangere have recorded 111.67 per cent and 106.05 per cent spending, respectively.

Later addressing reporters, Sadananda Gowda said areas around big cities like Bangalore showed poor implementation of MGNREGS, thanks to migration.

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