The Centre on Saturday approved the release of Rs 1,712.1 crore for Tamil Nadu from the National Disaster Response Fund for drought and cyclone relief and Rs 1,235.52 crore to Karnataka to help address the acute water shortage in the state. The development follows Tamil Nadu farmers’ 20-day protest in New Delhi, during which they demanded a loan waiver and other aid, mint reported.
“The central government is concerned about the prevailing drought situation in the states of Tamil Nadu and Karnataka,” an official statement said. The decision to clear the relief funds to the drought-hit states was made at a high-level meeting chaired by Home Minister Rajnath Singh,” the Centre said in a statement. The Tamil Nadu and Karnataka governments have been asked to transfer the amounts to benefiaries directly to their bank accounts.
Of the total funds released to Tamil Nadu, Rs 1,447.99 crore is for kharif drought relief, and the remaining Rs 264.11 crore is meant to deal with the destruction caused by Cyclone Vardha. While the committee had sanctioned Rs 1,793.63 crore for drought relief in Tamil Nadu, the Centre released Rs 1,447.99 crore by adjusting Rs 345.64 crore from the State Disaster Response Fund.
For Karnataka, the committee allowed Rs 1,782.44 crore to be granted after adjusting Rs 96.92 crore from the state funds and an earlier release of Rs 450 crore by the central government. The Centre has said that the funds released are much higher than the initial amounts recommended by the 14th Finance Commission.
Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam President MK Stalin had supported the Tamil Nadu protesters at Jantar Mantar, Delhi, and demanded the loan waiver.
On January 10, former Tamil Nadu Chief Minister O Panneerselvam had declared the state drought-hit and announced a number of concessions for farmers, in addition to waiving the land tax they need to pay. The Supreme Court had directed Karnataka to continue to release 2,000 cusecs of Cauvery water a day to Tamil Nadu. But on March 22, Karnataka had informed the apex court that it was not in a position to follow the order.