Tuesday, Apr 30, 2002
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By Our Special Correspondent
Even as the Revenue Minister, H.C. Srikantaiah, told a press conference today that the situation had eased, the office-bearers of the KPCC who met at the Congress Bhavan harped on the familiar theme of blaming the Centre for its failure to come to the rescue of the State.
Mr. Srikantaiah had greeted presspersons with the welcome news of rains breaking out in Belgaum and Dharwad districts. He said that the number of taluks facing acute drought was 46 today as against 146 some months ago. The Government had released a sum of Rs. 37 crore for relief, and the situation was bound to improve.
The minister further reiterated that there was no dearth of funds for taking up relief work. Questioned as to why the Government expected assistance from the Centre, he said that additional funds were always welcome. However, he went on to allege that the Centre had discriminated against Karnataka by not releasing funds. An all-party delegation led by the Chief Minister, S.M. Krishna which met the Prime Minister, A.B. Vajpayee, last year was in vain. Though the Union Agriculture Minister, Ajit Singh, was very courteous when he met him some time ago, he too had not responded to the pleas of the State. Mr. Singh only sent a study team.
About the former Chief Minister and Congress MP, S. Bangarappa, providing relief to farmers on his own in Sorab taluk of Shimoga District, the minister wondered from where he (Mr. Bangarappa) got the sowing paddy and rice. He added that the case of Mr. Bangarappa was a special one among the MPs from the State. Being a former Chief Minister, he had his own strength. He wished Mr. Bangarappa would extend his relief programme to the other taluks and not confine himself to his former Assembly constituency (Sorab).
The KPCC office-bearers demanded that the Centre come out with an assistance of Rs. 500 crore. They put the number of taluks facing acute scarcity at 150.
The PCC President, Allum Veerabhadrappa, told presspersons that meetings would be held at the district and block Congress levels on May 16 and 17 to review the situation and also the relief measures.
The district in-charge ministers would attend them. He did not expect the situation to improve in the next fortnight. They would not be able to hold those meetings earlier as the AICC session would be held on May 10. Mr. Veerabhadrappa further said the party might open goshalas next month as there was an acute shortage of fodder in many taluks.
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