An all-party delegation is all set to meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi in New Delhi on Monday seeking the Centre’s intervention in the implementation of the Kalasa-Banduri irrigation project and also discuss four other issues, including the prevailing drought in the State.
Speaking with mediapersons after holding a consultation meeting with the floor leaders of the two Houses of the Legislature, elected representatives, seers and bar association members in Bengaluru on Sunday, Chief Minister Siddaramaiah said the meeting came to a unanimous decision that Modi should intervene and convince the chief ministers of Maharashtra and Goa on the need for the implementation of the Kalasa-Banduri project.
The project seeks to improve drinking water supply to the districts of Belagavi, Dharwad and Gadag. It involves building barrages across Kalasa and Banduri, two tributaries of the Mahadayi river, to divert 7.56 tmc to the Malaprabha river. However, Maharashtra and Goa have raised objections, resulting in the project not taking off.
“An out-of-court settlement is necessary to implement the project. We will submit a memorandum to the prime minister when we meet him on Monday,” Siddaramaiah said. Drought
The chief minister said that the delegation will also take up the drought situation in the State with the prime minister, payment of dues to sugar cane farmers and problems faced by grape, pomegranate and sericulture farmers.
The State, especially the districts in North Karnataka, is facing the worst drought in 44 years. The State is facing a deficit rain of 28 per cent and 126 of the 176 taluks have been declared drought-hit. The State has estimated that the total crop loss due to the drought is around Rs 10,000 crore and is likely to seek relief from the Centre.
At the same time, the State government is also likely to seek a subsidy of Rs 900 crore from the Centre for sugarcane factories so as to enable them to pay the Fair and Remunerative Price (FRP) of Rs 2,200 per tonne of sugar cane to farmers. The government is of the view that the sugar cane factory owners are not in a position to pay the FRP due to fall in sugar prices. The gap between FRP and sugar prices is Rs 400 per tonne and the State government will ask the Centre to bear it as subsidy to the factory owners, sources said.
Another proposal of the State before the Centre is to seek help for pomegranate and grape farmers who are facing crisis due to crop loss. The State will also request the Centre to put in place bail-out measures for State sericulture farmers by restoring customs duty to the original 31.5 per cent (currently 10 per cent) to check the inflow of raw silk, particularly from China, the sources said.
BJP leaders Jagadish Shettar, K S Eshwarappa, union ministers Ananth Kumar, D V Sadananda Gowda, several legislators, farmers’ representatives and two seers will be part of the State delegation to New Delhi. JD(S) leader H D Kumaraswamy, in a letter to Siddaramaiah, has stated that he is not attending the meeting due to ill-health.
Later in the day, Chief Minister Siddaramaiah met the protesters and pacified them stating that a meeting would be held shortly in Belagavi to elicit their views.
Farmers seek to attend meet with CM
Farmers from North Karnataka staged a protest outside the Vidhana Soudha on Sunday demanding that they should be allowed to participate in the consultation meeting held by Chief Minister Siddaramaiah on the Kalasa-Banduri irrigation project.
Siddaramaiah had invited various stakeholders for the meeting at the Conference Hall in Vidhana Soudha ahead of an all-party delegation set to meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi in New Delhi on Monday to seek the Centre’s intervention in implementation of project.
When the police did not let farmers into the gates of the Vidhana Soudha, they staged a protest and raised slogans against the government. They also waylaid the car of Union Law Minister D V Sadananda Gowda.
Mallikarjun Kharge, Senior Congress leader: Former prime minister Indira Gandhi intervened and resolved the Telugu Ganga dispute between Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh. Now Narendra Modi should intervene and resolve the Kalasa-Banduri issue.
BS Yeddyurappa,BJP national vice-president: We will convince the chief ministers of Maharashtra and Goa (where the BJP is in power) on the Kalasa-Banduri issue. The Congress should convince the Opposition leaders in the two states
Basava jaya Mrutyunjaya Pontiff, Kudala Sangama Mutt: We are confident that the project which has been pending for decades will be completed soon. Both the State and the Centre should come to the rescue of farmers.”