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Karnataka CM meets PM, seeks ₹2,000 crore aid for flood relief

Karnataka chief minister H.D. Kumaraswamy with Prime Minister Narendra Modi in New Delhi on Monday. Photo: PTI.

Bengaluru: Karnataka chief minister H.D. Kumaraswamy on Monday met with Prime Minister Narendra Modi in New Delhi seeking immediate financial assistance to the tune of ₹2,000 crore to help relief and rehabilitation work in the flood-affected districts of Kodagu and other regions in the Malnad area of the state.

Kumaraswamy was accompanied by former prime minister H.D. Deve Gowda and several ministers from the Janata Dal (Secular) or JD(S) and Congress coalition government.

The rainfall recorded in Karnataka during the second week of August beats a 118-year record and has resulted in damage to infrastructure and agriculture to the tune of ₹3,705.87 crore, according to the chief minister’s office (CMO).

Heavy rain through August had inundated several parts of Karnataka and neighbouring Kerala that saw hundreds lose their lives and many more displaced from their homes. In Karnataka, the coffee growing region of Kodagu was severely affected with hundreds of acres of plantations and agricultural fields lost to landslides, flooding after heavy rain that beat a nine-decade-old record. The Union government has said that two teams of officials would be sent to assess the damage in the state, the CMO said on Monday.

Though heavy rain was recorded in some parts of the state, many other regions of Karnataka are drought hit and the state government is expected to submit a detailed report on this to the centre. Out of the 30 districts in the state, four have recorded excess rains, 10 have received normal rainfall and the remaining 16 have recorded deficit rainfall.

The coalition government headed by Kumaraswamy, which is struggling to keep its alliance intact, has tried to mitigate the effect of the consecutive droughts in the state by announcing farm loan and debt relief waivers to help the more than 40 million strong agricultural community in the state. This is aimed at getting the support of the community ahead of the 2019 Lok Sabha elections that the JD(S) and Congress have decided to fight together. The government has also decided to continue several populist programmes of the earlier Congress government to reap electoral dividends next year.

Kumaraswamy also met Union petroleum minister Dharmendra Pradhan and sought a direction to oil marketing companies to release additional LPG connections for the Mukhyamantri Anila Bhagya Yojane (MMABY), which is complementary to Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojna implemented by the government of India. The MMABY scheme, aimed at covering 30 lakh beneficiaries over 18-24 months, seeks to provide gas connections, a stove and two refills free of cost.

To realise the goal of ‘kerosene free Karnataka’, the connection release capacity for MMABY should be increased to 1.5 -2 lakh per month along with the provision to pay the security deposit on behalf of the beneficiaries to the distributors, the CMO said.

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