The late arrival of rain may not have particularly cheered the farmers of Karnataka who have already suffered severe losses, but the government has decided to relax the restrictions it had earlier imposed on the foreign travel of bureaucrats in the light of drought.
The Department of Personnel and Administration Reforms has recently issued a circular stating that expenses of officials chosen for foreign travel by the Centre — either on deputation or as part of any delegation — can be borne by the Karnataka Government.
While the Government had stopped all foreign travels of officials in April, it relaxed the rule in June to allow foreign travels when the expenses are borne entirely by the Centre, international organisations or multi-lateral agencies.
Travels which involved the State Government bearing the expenses continued to be banned.
However, the recent circular says that there is a need for further relaxation since the government has been receiving many proposals by the Centre involving foreign deputation and travel of officials which require the State to bear the expenses. “Such deputations/travels can be considered for approval since they help in implementation of projects of the Karnataka government,” says the circular.
Restriction on the Karnataka government organising and sponsoring foreign travels for bureaucrats will, however, continue till further orders, the circular states.
This relaxation has irked farmers who say that the Government seems think that farmers are no longer affected by drought.
Maruti Manpade of Karnataka Prantha Raitha Sangha points out that situation of farmers in 70 to 80 taluks continues to be grim and that should be the focus of the officialdom as well as people’s representatives. “The compensation for crop losses is a pittance for farmers, particularly in rain-fed areas. But they seem to have money only for luxuries like foreign travel,” he said.
C. Puttaswamy of Karnataka Rajya Raitha Sangha says that he would have no objections to these travels if they would at least yield something that alleviates condition of farmers.
It may be mentioned here that foreign “study” tour of a contingent of legislators in September, at a cost of Rs. 15 crore, had drawn severe criticism. With the government paying a compensation of Rs. 1,000 per acre for crop loss in rain-fed areas, the same money would have meant paying compensation withered crops in 1.50 lakh acres.