The Centre owes Rs 1,697 crore to Karnataka government under the National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (NREGA), but the state BJP leaders are busy politicising the drought issue, Rural Development Minister Krishna Byre Gowda said in Bengaluru on Thursday.
The minister, who was briefing media about drought relief measures being taken up in the state, alleged that the Centre seemed to be reluctant to fund the scheme which provides livelihood to rural poor and curbs migration.
"Last October, I had lead a delegation of state MPs to the Centre, demanding pending payments under the NREGA scheme. But the Centre is not inclined to settle the dues," he said.
"During the Kharif season, the Centre released Rs 949 crore to Karnataka as crop loss compensation, and during the same period, Maharashtra was given Rs 4,700 crore. In the Rabi season, we submitted a memorandum, stating crop loss of Rs 11,384 crore. But till now, the Centre has not acted on it."
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Karnataka has achieved a record performance under NREGA in 2018-19, the minister claimed.
"Our target was to provide 8.5 crore mandays of work worth Rs 3,740 crore. But we exceeded the target—10.47 mandays and works worth Rs 4,600 crore was accomplished. The scheme benefited 21 lakh people and helped curb distress migration caused due to drought," he explained.
As many as 5,075 villages in Karnataka face acute drinking water scarcity. The severity of drought has compelled the government to deploy 2,177 water tankers (6,079 trips) across 1,324 villages, and another 1,350 villages are being provided water through 1,647 private borewells taken on rent by the district administration.
As emergency relief measures, 150 fodder banks have been opened, besides housing 11,614 livestock in the government-run cow sheds.