Special Correspondent

Bangalore: Leader of the Opposition in the Legislative Assembly M. Mallikarjun Kharge has urged the Government to immediately begin implementing drought relief measures. District in-charge Ministers and Secretaries should be asked to monitor employment schemes and the provision of drinking water and fodder in the drought-hit areas.

No rainfall

Mr. Kharge, who is also the president of the Karnataka Pradesh Congress Committee, told presspersons here on Tuesday that 124 taluks in Gulbarga, Bidar, Raichur, Koppal and Bellary districts had not received rainfall in the past month. Urgent relief measures were needed in at least 101 taluks.

Farmers had incurred losses as seeds and fertilisers had gone waste because of lack of rain. Only 20 lakh hectares had been sown so far compared to the usual 70 lakh hectares.

He said that Tumkur, Chitradurga, Davangere, Shimoga and Kolar districts were likely to get rain in the coming days and the Agriculture, Horticulture and Revenue departments should be prepared to provide all assistance to farmers. Mr. Kharge said that he would write to Chief Minister B.S. Yeddyurappa on the matter.

The State Government could utilise funds available under the calamity relief fund for relief measures. He wanted to know when farmers would be given free power supply for their irrigation pumpsets as promised by the Bharatiya Janata Party in its election manifesto.

The assistance of Agricultural Produce Marketing Committees should be sought to fix minimum support prices for onion, tomato and other produce to be paid from the revolving fund set up for the purpose.

‘Lack ideology’

Mr. Kharge said it remained to be seen how many more “weak MLAs”, who were not loyal to the party and did not have any ideology or principles, would desert the Congress to join the BJP.

He, however, expressed the hope that all those who remained with the party were ideologically strong to face the onslaught of the ruling party.

Asked whether he would seek the support of Janata Dal (S) president H.D. Deve Gowda for the confidence motion to be moved by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Mr. Kharge said the high command had assigned the job of handling MPs to some leaders.