Karnataka floods: Opposition demands interim relief of Rs 5,000 crore

Congress, JD(S) demand that the floods be declared as 'national calamity'

Chief Minister B.S. Yediyurappa visiting flood-hit Shivamogga district Chief Minister B.S. Yediyurappa visiting flood-hit Shivamogga district

The Karnataka Congress on Tuesday gave the Narendra Modi government at the Centre an ultimatum to release an interim relief of Rs 5,000 crore to help the state tide over the flood crisis.  

"We are disappointed to note that the central cabinet which met today has not come up with any announcement of interim relief. We urge the Centre to release Rs 5,000 crore within two days, and conduct a detailed survey to release the additional funds later if need be. Even after Union Home Minister Amit Shah conducted an aerial survey and the Union finance minister, too, toured the rain-affected districts,  the Centre has failed to provide a relief package. It shows their disinterest and indecisiveness," said KPCC president Dinesh Gundu Rao, adding that during the UPA rule, then prime minister Manmohan Singh had announced Rs 1,600 crore immediately after the survey of flood hit areas. 

"Is the state under President rule?," asked Rao.   

The Congress and the JD(S) have also demanded that the floods in the state be declared as "national calamity". 

JD(S) patriarch H.D. Devegowda, in his letter to the PM, urged the Centre to provide an interim relief of Rs 5,000 crore and declare the flood as a national calamity.  

Chief Minister B.S. Yediyurappa, who has admitted it is a grave crisis, however, refused to call it a national calamity. He said he would request the Centre to release a financial assistance Rs 10,000 crore for the state.

Union minister D.V. Sadananda Gowda maintained that the Centre had extended all the support for the rescue and relief operations in the flood affected areas by deploying the NDRF, Army and IAF personnel for evacuation. He said the Centre would rush teams to assess the damage before announcing relief package.  

CM faces political heat

Congress leader V.S. Ugrappa mocked Yediyurappa for being alone in his cabinet.  

"It is a one-man army. Almost 17 days after the BJP formed the government, the chief minister has still not formed the cabinet. The absence of district in-charge ministers is affecting flood relief work," said Ugrappa.  

Yediyurappa, who is touring the rain-battered districts, has the support of his MLAs and party MPs, who have formed teams to monitor the flood situation. 

The state, which saw a major political upheaval last month after the JD(S)-Congress coalition government lost majority paving way for a BJP government (following the disqualification of 17 rebel MLAs), is going through difficult times with the flood fury affecting nearly one-third of the population of the state. 

Yediyurappa, who was sworn in on July 25, has his hands full as the current crisis has delayed the formation of the new cabinet. While the state BJP is awaiting the nod from the central leadership to form the cabinet, the fate of 17 disqualified MLAs from the Congress and the JD(S) remains a suspense. The rebels have petitioned the Supreme Court challenging the Speaker's decision to disqualify them. But the matter has not come up for hearing in the apex court pending scrutiny by the registrar. The delay in cabinet formation has slowed down the governance in the state and has given enough ammunition to the opposition parties to take on the BJP.

Yediyurappa said he would be visiting Delhi to meet the party leadership and that the cabinet expansion would take place before August 17.

As many as 17 out of the 30 districts have been declared flood affected and 86 taluks have suffered inundation due to swelling of rivers after excess water was discharged from Maharashtra dams. Incessant rains that lashed the north, central and coastal Karnataka region have worsened the situation. The last fortnight has claimed 48 lives, while 16 people have gone missing. The losses are now pegged at Rs 50,000 crore, as 41,915 houses have been damaged and 136 major roads destroyed due to floods and landslides. At least 837 animal deaths were reported while 50,595 animals were rescued. Crop loss across 4.30 lakh hectares of land has devastated the lives of farmers.  

At least 6.7 lakh people have been evacuated as the villages got marooned and houses collapsed. They have been shifted to 2,217 relief centres across the state. While the swirling waters of the Krishna river have devastated the north Karnataka districts—Belagavi,  Raichur,  Yadgir Hubli—incessant rains, landslides and flooding in Kodagu, Chikmagalur, Hassan and Shivamogga have marooned many villages and cut off highway connectivity, too.  

The coastal districts of Uttara Kannada, Dakshina Kannada and Udupi were battered by incessant rains leading to spurt in Netravati river.