Karnataka Revenue Minister Krishna Byre Gowda on Monday said the state government has appealed to the Centre to increase the employment days under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS) from 100 days to 150 days in view of the severe drought prevailing in the state.
Addressing reporters, Gowda said the Central team recently visited the state to inspect the drought situation.
The state government has demanded that the Union government release approximately Rs 475 crore, which has not been paid to the labourers who were employed under the MGNREGS.
Those who work as labourers are leading their lives in extreme poverty, the minister said and added that we will be putting them in further distress by not paying them.
Regarding increasing the employment days in the distress year, Gowda said there is a provision in the law that a labourer should get a job for 150 days instead of 100 days during drought.
So, the state government sent a request letter to the Centre on September 23 that it should issue an order in this regard to extend the number of employment days from 100 to 150 in view of drought in the state.
“The Central team conducted the field inspection of the prevailing drought situation in the state. In the next one week, the team will submit its report to the officers concerned. We are expecting that their report will do justice to the people of the state,” the minister said.
Gowda said the cabinet sub-committee, which has already declared 195 taluks of the state as drought, has now directed the district authorities to carry out ground verification of 21 taluks from Tuesday and submit a report by Friday.
After the ground-truthing, eligible taluks will be declared as drought-affected, he added.Ground truthing refers to a survey of crops and other conditions in the region.
Though the Centre said there were 46 per cent small and marginal farmers in Karnataka, the minister said it is not so.Their number was more than 60 per cent, he added.
“We are gathering supportive information to substantiate our assertion that the state has more than 60 per cent small and marginal farmers.We will submit this information to the Central team in the form of a supplementary memorandum,” Gowda said.
He said the Karnataka government has appealed to the Central team that the state is witnessing a peculiar climatic condition.
There was 56 per cent deficient rain in June, 28 per cent excess rain in July, 73 per cent less rain than average in August and 28 per cent deficient rain in September, the minister pointed out.
“The Centre should take this strange climatic condition, especially the erratic monsoon, seriously.They should see whether other states too are witnessing the same trend. We have asked the Central team that they should pay special attention to address this erratic monsoon issue,” he said.