At least 30 of Karnataka’s 176 talukas are likely to be declared drought-hit for the Kharif season, according to a senior state government official.
Though the number of drought-hit talukas this Kharif season is low compared to the 100 declared last year, floods, heavy rains, hailstorms and dry spells this year have added to the troubles of farmers, who are already struggling with debt and falling income.
“Talukas in and around Kalaburagi, Ballari, Tumkur and parts of south interior Karnataka, among other places, have received deficient rains," the official cited above said, requesting not to be named.
The state had declared drought in 156 talukas during the Rabi season last year.
The declaration of drought and possible financial assistance are likely to rake up a political storm in the state. The Congress and Janata Dal (Secular), or JD(S), has already criticised the B.S.Yediyurappa-led Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government over its failure to get adequate flood relief sanctioned from the centre. The attacks will only get sharper ahead of the three-day winter session of the assembly that begins on Thursday, and in the run up to the 5 December bypolls for 15 assembly constituencies.
There have been reports of farmer suicides from various regions, allegedly due to the delays in providing flood relief.
Former prime minister H.D. Deve Gowda is leading a protest march against the inadequate assistance on Thursday, when the winter session begins in Bengaluru.
The central government has been criticised for ignoring the needs of Karnataka, which saw heavy rains in August and September, badly affecting at least 22 districts, and killing 90 people and hundreds of livestock, besides inundating hundreds of villages and destroying over eight lakh hectares of crops.
The Congress and JD(S) have also questioned the consistently low allocation for a high-performing state like Karnataka, compared to Maharashtra, Gujarat, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and UP.
Though the state had estimated losses of ₹35,000 crore, the centre released just under ₹900 crore last week.
Under the State Disaster Relief Fund (SDRF) for 2015-2020, Karnataka’s share stands at ₹1,527 crore, compared to ₹3,894 for Gujarat, ₹3,729 crore for Uttar Pradesh, ₹6,094 crore for Rajasthan, ₹4,847 crore for Madhya Pradesh and ₹8,195 crore for Maharashtra.