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'Amount released for drought relief far less than what was asked for,' Karnataka tells Supreme Court

According to the official order by the Ministry of Finance, a high-powered committee approved the release of Rs 3,498.82 crore as drought relief but released Rs 3,454.22 crore as Rs 40.60 crore was already with the state under State Disaster Response Fund.
shish Tripathi
Last Updated : 29 April 2024, 08:41 IST
Last Updated : 29 April 2024, 08:41 IST

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New Delhi: The Karnataka government on Monday contended before the Supreme Court that the Centre's decision to release Rs 3,454 crore to it for drought relief was far less than what was asked for.

Senior advocate Kapil Sibal, appearing for the state government, submitted before a bench of Justices B R Gavai and Sandeep Mehta that a direction should be issued to place on record the Inter Ministerial Committee report in the matter.

The court directed for placing on record the report as well as the note even as Attorney General R Venkatramani submitted that the recommendation has been made for release of the funds.

The A-G sought time for placing on record the report and note.

The court fixed the matter for consideration on next Monday.

On April 26, the Centre released Rs 3,454 crore to Karnataka under the National Disaster Response Fund (NDRF) for drought relief on the day half of the Lok Sabha seats in the state went to polls.

According to the official order by the Ministry of Finance, a high-powered committee approved the release of Rs 3,498.82 crore as drought relief but released Rs 3,454.22 crore as Rs 40.60 crore was already with the state under State Disaster Response Fund.

The state had sought Rs 18,174 crore in September 2023 under the NDRF to take up relief works in drought-hit areas. This request included Rs 5,662 crore for compensating farmers who suffered crop losses during the kharif season due to inadequate rainfall.

Karnataka had declared 223 taluks as drought affected on September 13, 2023. It also claimed that due to drought, crops were damaged on 48 lakh hectares, resulting in a loss of Rs 35,162 crore.

On April 22, the Centre on Monday assured the court that the demand to release drought relief funds for Karnataka would be dealt with expeditiously after having received a clearance from the Election Commission.

On April 8, the court had said the Centre and States should not fight over the release of funds while considering a plea by the Karnataka government to direct the Centre to release Rs 35,162 crore for drought relief in view of "grave humanitarian distress" and "calamity" of severe nature faced by it.

In its writ petition filed through advocate D L Chidananda, the Karnataka government said the Union government's Ministry of Home Affairs has failed to take a final decision and release the financial assistance from the National Disaster Response Fund (NDRF) to the state for drought relief, though six months have lapsed since filing of a report by the Inter-Ministerial Central Team (IMCT).

It contended the Centre's action in not releasing the financial assistance for drought arrangements as per the National Disaster Response Fund (NDRF) is ex-facie illegal, arbitrary and violative of fundamental rights guaranteed to its citizens under Articles 14 and 21 of the Constitution.

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Published 29 April 2024, 08:41 IST

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