With the increased demand from villages to move to safe places, the State Government has decided to shift 346 villages in 14 districts of north Karnataka, which witnessed unprecedented rainfall during September-October.

Chief Minister B.S. Yeddyurappa, who chaired a high-level officials’ meeting here on Thursday, reviewed the status of rehabilitation work in flood-affected districts and said the people of 346 of flood-affected villages would be rehabilitated permanently. Earlier, the Government had decided to shift 216 villages.

The officials had identified land for shifting 224 villages, while the layout formation work had commenced in 170 villages. House construction work had commenced in three villages. Lands would be identified for shifting 122 villages soon, Mr. Yeddyurappa said.

Noting the difficulties faced by the officials in the land acquisition process, he said farmers had been demanding higher price for their lands. The Government, however, had decided to pay compensation from Rs. 1 lakh to Rs. 3 lakh an acre to all those who will lose lands for rehabilitation. There has also been pressure on the Deputy Commissioners to form layouts on caste-lines. Some rich people had been demanding bigger housing sites in the new layouts, he said.

A total of three lakh houses would be constructed in the first phase — one lakh houses on public-private partnership and two lakh houses under the Indira Awas Yojana of the Centre. Foundation stones had been laid for construction of houses in 40 villages and bhoomi puja for construction of houses in rest of the villages would be done by December-end, the Chief Minister said.

The loss due to heavy rain and floods in 14 districts has been put at Rs. 18,500 crore. The Government had released Rs. 1,750 crore, including Rs. 500 crore released by the Centre. The donors contributed Rs. 1,650 crore. The Government has sought relief of at least Rs. 6,665.21 crore from the Centre for taking up rehabilitation work, the Chief Minister said.

Stating that the Government was confident of rehabilitating people of all 346 villages in the next six months, Mr. Yeddyurappa said priority would be given for providing basic amenities such as roads, electricity, drinking water, schools and drainages in the newly formed layouts.

Revenue Minister G. Karunakara Reddy said all officials worked as a team in north Karnataka districts and worked day and night to shift people to safe places. A memorandum would be submitted to the Centre again seeking early release of more funds to take up rehabilitation work, he said.

Earlier, S.M Jamdar, nodal officer for rehabilitation, said Raichur, Belgaum and Bagalkot districts had been severely affected by floods and rehabilitation works had to be expedited there. The number of villages to be shifted kept on changing daily and the pace of rehabilitation work had been slow on account of several reasons, including land acquisition, he said.

Ministers Jagadish Shettar, Basavarj Bommai, Murugesh R. Nirani, Suresh Kumar, S.A. Ravindranath, and Chief Secretary S.V. Ranganath, Deputy Commissioners and Chief Executive Officers of zilla panchayats attended the meeting.