Saturday, April 20, 2024

Karnataka moves Supreme Court against Union govt for denying drought relief funds

The Karnataka government on Saturday has filed a writ petition against the Union government in the Supreme Court for denying funds to the State for drought relief under the Disaster Management Act, 2005 and the Manual for Drought Management.

The State argued that the reluctance of the Union government to provide financial assistance is a violation of the fundamental rights of the people of Karnataka under Articles 14 and 21 of the Constitution.

Various clauses under the statutory scheme of the Disaster Management Act, 2005, the Manual for Drought Management and the Guidelines on Constitution and Administration of the State Disaster Response Fund and National Disaster Response Fund require the Union government to allocate special funds for states.

Under the Manual for Drought Management, it must assist the State from the NDRF(The National Disaster Response Fund ) within a month of the receipt of the Inter-Ministerial Central Team (IMCT). 

From 4th to 9th October, 2023 the IMCT visited various drought-affected districts and submitted a report to the National Executive Committee constituted under Section 9 of the Disaster Management Act, 2005. 

Even after almost six months from the date of the said report, the Union government has not decided on the assistance to the State from the National Disaster Response Fund.

“In terms of the Disaster Management Act, 2005, Union of India is under obligation to render financial assistance to the State Governments. However, despite the calamity being of a severe nature, despite the constitution and visit of an Inter-Ministerial Central Team(IMCT) in October for a first-hand assessment of the humanitarian needs towards response and relief of immediate/temporary nature, damages caused and relief work carried out by the state and submission of their report for allocation of funds from NDRF, despite the submission of the sub Committee of the National Executive Committee’s report for allocation of the funds under NDRF to the High Level Committee(HLC) and despite repeated requests by the State, the Union of India has not convened the High Level Committee to take action on the Sub-Committee of the National Executive Committee’s report on the Memorandums submitted by the State Government seeking financial assistance, which has impaired the fundamental right to life guaranteed under Article 21 of the Constitution of India to its people,” the plea stated.

For the Kharif season of 2023, which starts in June and ends in September, a total of 223 out of 236 taluks were declared as drought-affected, with 196 taluks categorised as severely affected and the remaining 27 categorised as moderately affected.

In view of the grim situation, the Karnataka government requested funds under NDRF.

Although the total estimated loss due to crop damage in the State is Rs. 35, 162.05 Crore, the assistance sought was only Rs. 18,171.44 Crore.

While Rs.4663.12 crore was sought for crop loss input subsidy, Rs. 12577.9 crore for gratuitous relief to families whose livelihood has been seriously affected due to drought, Rs.566.78 crore for addressing shortage of drinking water relief and Rs.363.68 crore towards cattle care, were also demanded.

The petition was filed through Advocate DL Chidananda and settled through Senior Advocate Devadatt Kamat and Advocate General (AG) K Shashi Kiran Shetty.

In the petition, the State seeks a direction to the Union Home Ministry to take a final decision and release the financial assistance from the NDRF to the State of Karnataka.

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