BJP in state, Centre. Where’s Karnataka flood relief?

BJP in state, Centre. Where’s Karnataka flood relief?

It is about two months now since large parts of Karnataka were devastated by floods, but central relief continues to remain elusive, putting a spade in relief and rehabilitation work. Neither the fact that Chief Minister B S Yediyurappa has knocked on the doors of the prime minister and Union home minister many times nor that Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman is elected to the Rajya Sabha from Karnataka has helped. The role of the 25 BJP MPs elected from the state has been most disappointing, with none of them mustering the courage to bring pressure on the Centre, either individually or collectively. The servility among them is such that Bengaluru (South) MP Tejasvi Surya even went on record that the state should not look towards the Union government for funds, only to be rebuked by Yediyurappa. The chief minister’s desperation is palpable because while on the one hand, resentment is rising among the victims in flood-hit districts, on the other, by-elections have been declared in 15 Assembly constituencies.

Over 103 taluks in 22 districts were impacted by rains and floods, with about 7.5 lakh hectares of land submerged in water, displacing lakhs of people. Over 75,000 houses were destroyed while some 80 people lost their lives. The state government, which has pegged the loss at Rs 38,451 crore, had sought an immediate relief of Rs 3,818 crore. One of the reasons for the delay is the Centre’s stand that as per the National Disaster Relief Fund (NDRF) guidelines, compensation can be paid only for residential buildings and not for other private structures like schools and hospitals. Though the state government has advanced Rs 10,000 to the displaced families as immediate relief, it is neither enough to make both ends meet nor to start life afresh. With no signs of the Centre releasing funds anytime soon, the chief minister has been left with no option but to raise about Rs 1,000 crore by diverting budgetary allocations from various departments to build houses in the affected areas. 

Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who visited the state several times during the Lok Sabha elections, has not visited the state or even conducted an aerial survey of the flood-hit regions to ascertain for himself the gravity of the situation. The catastrophe, said to be the worst in 45 years, has caused untold misery, with many left with neither their lands nor a roof over their heads. The state and the central governments should immediately iron out all procedural differences and ensure that the relief amount is released without delay so that the suffering of the people is mitigated to some extent.

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