Callous Centre


T

he widespread losses and misery brought about by unprecedented rain fury in Karnataka have failed to move the Central government which has been parsimonious in its offer of aid to the state. As against the state government’s request for Rs 10,000 crore for relief and rehabilitation work it has parted with only a meagre sum of Rs 52.26 crore from the National Calamity Relief and Contingency Funds. As pointed out by this newspaper, the people of Karnataka have already contributed more than 10 times that amount for the state government’s relief efforts. The amount released by the Centre is routine aid which does not take into consideration the extraordinary situation in the state. The rain havoc in the state is among the worst natural devastations experienced by the state in its history and is a serious calamity of national scale.

About 200 people have lost their lives and the lives of millions of people have been shattered in 14 districts of northern Karnataka. Houses, standing crops, cattle, poultry, communication and infrastructure facilities and means of livelihood have been lost and it will take Herculean efforts, thousands of crores of relief aid and many months to bring the lives of the affected people back on track. The damage is estimated to be of the order of above Rs 17,000 crore. The amount released by the Centre is not enough to meet the requirements of even a few villages. Chief minister Yeddyurappa’s pronouncement that the state has enough funds to meet the needs was brave talk.

Without generous Central aid, the state will be unable to undertake even a small part of the rehabilitation and reconstruction efforts. It is the human and official responsibility of the Centre to extend aid and support matching the gravity of the situation in the state. Though comparisons are odious, especially in morbid circumstances of tragedy and human misery, it will not go unnoticed that Andhra Pradesh, which suffered less casualties and damage, was given central aid three times that was given to Karnataka.

That has raised suspicions of the Centre playing discriminatory politics in a human situation. Andhra Pradesh also needs much more than what has been given to it, but Karnataka’s need is still greater. The damage sustained by the state has not even been assessed by the Centre. The insensitivity and callousness that mark its response to the plight of the people of the state are too obvious to be missed.

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