Special Correspondent

Terms Prime Minister’s announcement of Rs. 1,000-crore Central aid disappointing

Centre urged to send team to assess damage

Suggests social forestry programme to prevent floods

Bangalore: Bharatiya Janata Party leader M. Venkaiah Naidu termed the release of Central aid of Rs. 1,000 crore to Karnataka by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh disappointing.

He urged the Union Government to immediately release Rs. 5,000 crore to the State as the first instalment for relief and rehabilitation measures in the rain-battered northern and coastal districts where a large number of people had lost their houses, belongings, crops and cattle.

The former BJP president told presspersons here on Saturday that Dr. Singh’s decision to release Rs. 1,000 crore “is not all sufficient and it is disappointing”. Funds at the disposal of the State Government were inadequate for relief and rehabilitation measures in 18 districts. The State Government should be assured of funds by the Centre for construction of schools, houses, community halls, gram panchayat buildings, repair of roads and power utilities, he said.

‘Send team’

He also appealed to the Centre to immediately despatch a team of officials to assess the damage to private and public property. “Normal bureaucratic delays should not happen because rehabilitation is a massive exercise that could take at least six months to a year.”

The BJP leader, who visited Bellary, Koppal and Raichur districts to obtain firsthand information about the extent of damage in villages located on the banks of the Krishna, the Bhima and the Tungabhadra, suggested that the State and Union governments go in for a massive social forestry programme to prevent flash-floods in future.

Tackling naxals

He criticised what he termed the piecemeal approach of the Union Government in tackling the naxal menace in various States and urged it to evolve a joint strategy involving all affected States to counter the Maoists.

Mr. Naidu said there was no meaning in holding talks with naxals or supporters of the Communist Party of India (Maoist) who were attempting to capture power through the barrel of a gun, which was unacceptable in a democracy.

‘No clear-cut policy’

The Union Government had no clear-cut policy to tackle the naxal menace. “Naxalite is not a social or economic issue. It is a political issue and the Centre should take it as a political challenge. We should go for a political campaign” to tackle the menace, Mr. Naidu said.