Central team to visit drought-hit districts again

Central team to visit drought-hit districts again

Tour comes in the wake of request by State for more funds

A central study team headed by Pravesh Sharma, Managing Director, Small Farmers Agro Business Consortia, will visit the State from May 13 to 16 to study the drought situation.

The team comprising 10 officials from different ministries will visit drought-hit Kolar, Chikkaballapur, Tumkur and Chitradurga districts to obtain first hand information on the natural calamity.

The visit comes in the wake of the request made by an all-party delegation led by Chief Minister D V Sadananda Gowda to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to release funds to the State for relief works. Based on the report submitted by the team, the Centre will sanction funds.

Informed sources said the all-party delegation, which met several ministers last week, faced some embarrassing moments during some of the meetings.

When the plight of the sericulture farmers was brought to the notice of Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee, he told the team that he cannot accede to the demands of the State government as he also has to take care of the interests of weavers and consumers.

“Mukherjee was not countered by the State team as whatever he said was accepted not questioned by both the chief minister and the Central ministers who were part of the team,” said some MPs.

When the delegation met Home Minister P Chidambaram, he asked the team since when the State was facing drought. When told that it was for the last several months starting December-January, he asked what the State government was doing all the while.

Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar, after the team met speaking to some MPs later wondered why a memorandum was not sent to him.

“The chief minister came with a letter and nothing else. There was no representation and in such circumstances, it is difficult to process the letter. However, since the delegation had come, I will be sending a team,” he told the MPs.

However, the sources in the State government asserted that a memorandum was submitted to the Centre twice but the response of the Centre was “deplorable.”

The State has spent Rs 600 crore and the Centre has not given any assistance, they claimed.

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