Govt to seek Rs 943 cr dues from Centre

Govt to seek Rs 943 cr dues from Centre

As Karnataka is facing severe drought, Chief Minister H D Kumaraswamy will approach Prime Minister Narendra Modi seeking Rs 943 crore that Centre apparently owes the state government.

This is the money the state government paid “on behalf of the Centre” to ensure that the rural masses had jobs to carry out under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (NREGA) during the previous drought.

“This week, the chief minister will write to the prime minister seeking the release of Rs 943 crore given the drought we are facing this time,” Rural Development and Panchayat Raj (RDPR) Minister Krishna Byre Gowda told reporters Wednesday. “Because the Centre had not released the payment, our government had stepped in and paid Rs 1,500 crore just so that people have work to do. This was like a loan we’d given to the Centre because it was money the Centre was supposed to pay. The Centre has paid us Rs 557 crore, but we’ve been pursuing the repayment of the remaining Rs 943 crore for one year now,” Gowda said.

“The non-payment of Rs 943 crore by the Centre has made things difficult for us, although our current fund releases haven’t been hit,” he said.

Gowda, who reviewed the progress of his department, has set a December 31 deadline for Zilla Panchayats to start works related to drinking water projects. “We have approved 27,000 works worth Rs 1,700 crore. Work orders have to be issued before December 31 and at least 90% of the projects should be finished before March 31 next year,” Gowda said.

The Zilla Panchayats also have unspent funds to the tune of Rs 647 crore. This is because of lack of discipline,” he said.

The drought has also resulted in the government revising the NREGA target of generating 10 crore persondays against the earlier 8.5 crore target.