The Prime Minister Narendra Modi, today chaired a high level meeting on the drought and water scarcity situation in parts of Karnataka. The Chief Minister of Karnataka, Siddaramaiah, was present in the meeting. Senior officials from the Government of India, and the State of Karnataka, were also present.
Initiating the discussion, the Prime Minister said he is holding separate meetings with Chief Ministers of 11 drought-affected States, to see what can be done to mitigate the problems posed by drought, and also to focus attention on medium to long term measures.
The Chief Minister of Karnataka thanked the Government of India for the assistance of Rs. 1540.20 crore against the Kharif memorandum, and said that this has been fully utilized to assist the farmers. He said that this amount was transferred to farmers through Real-Time Gross Settlement (RTGS). He further said that Rs. 723.23 crore had recently been approved for the Rabi memorandum, which should be released expeditiously.
It was informed that this was in addition to the Rs. 207 crore released as central share of SDRF for 2015-16. Further, Rs. 108.75 crore has already been released as first instalment of SDRF for 2016-17.
It was further informed that Rs 603 crore would be made available with Karnataka during 2016-17 for water conservation and drought proofing under various schemes of Government of India. Similarly, Rs 830 crore would be available under various agriculture schemes.
The Chief Minister described the problems being faced by people owing to the severe drought. He said that major rivers and reservoirs in the State are facing acute water shortage. He explained the various measures undertaken by the State Government, including desilting, construction of farm ponds, steps towards drip irrigation, and ensuring adequate drinking water supply.
The Prime Minister discussed various measures for desilting, water conservation and recharging of ground water, with the Chief Minister. He urged the State Government to give maximum attention to desilting, farm tanks and check dams over the next 30 to 40 days, before the onset of the monsoon.
The Chief Minister apprised the Prime Minister about the steps taken by Karnataka, for waste water management. Appreciating these efforts, the Prime Minister emphasized that this should be taken up in a big way in the towns and cities.
Siddaramaiah apprised the Prime Minister about the preparatory steps taken towards implementation of the Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana. The State Government also made some suggestions regarding crop insurance.
The Chief Minister presented a memorandum to the Prime Minister, and the Prime Minister assured him of all possible support.
The Prime Minister said that the Centre and the State should work together to tackle the problem of drought, which he described as “our” problem. He said that solutions to the problem would have to be found together.
The Prime Minister said that the time has come when there should be healthy competition among States to speak of efforts in water conservation and management, the way efforts to increase GSDP and investment are spoken about. The Prime Minister also asked NITI Aayog to develop an index to measure water conservation and management.