EC bars Minister from holding meet on drought

While about 2,500 villages in the State are reeling under severe drought, the Election Commission (EC) has barred Rural Development and Panchayat Raj (RDPR) Minister Krishna Byre Gowda from holding meetings with zilla panchayats on monitoring the situation and providing relief to affected people.

Citing enforcement of the model code of conduct, the EC has permitted only the Principal Secretary of RDPR Department to chair the meeting of CEOs.

L.K. Ateeq, Principal Secretary of the RDPR, on Saturday held a meeting and instructed CEOs to implement relief measures on a war footing.

Request turned down

Speaking to The Hindu, Mr. Gowda said he had requested the EC to permit him to chair the meeting of CEOs for reviewing drought situation in the State. But the EC turned down his request. He has accused the EC of not allowing him to discharge his duty even as the State is reeling under drought and facing drinking water problem.

Karnataka went to polls on April 18 and 23 in two phases of the Lok Sabha election.

He said in a tweet: “Several taluks are reeling under severe drought. The EC, though, will not allow me to discharge my duty as the RDPR Minister and conduct meetings with the zilla panchayat CEOs to review critical drinking water and employment programmes. Why?” In another tweet, he said: “Elections are over in Karnataka. Aren’t laws and rules meant to aid better governance and not stymie legitimate efforts to safeguard citizens?” Mr. Gowda said that if the crisis deepens, the public will hold the Ministers accountable and expect them to address their grievances.

Meanwhile, Sanjiv Kumar, Chief Electoral Officer for Karnataka, said the request of the Minister had been forwarded to the EC.

“We have to see what they decide. But as per the model code of conduct guidelines, Ministers can take up official meetings only with Principal Secretaries of their departments and not district officials and zilla panchayat CEOs,” Mr. Kumar said.

Relief work

Mr. Ateeq said that nearly 2,500 villages have been facing severe drinking water problem. The department has hired 1,200 private borewells to supply water to drought-hit villages. A total of 1,141 tankers have been pressed into service to supply drinking water to villages facing shortage.

A sum of ₹200 crore has been released for task forces headed by MLAs. A total of 5,000 works were undertaken under the Task Force and 4,000 works have been completed, he said.

The Centre had released ₹800 crore under the MNREGA in the current financial year (2019-20). However, the Centre has not cleared pending amount of more than ₹1,500 crore of the previous two years, Mr. Ateeq said.

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Printable version | Dec 7, 2021 9:29:33 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/karnataka/ec-bars-minister-from-holding-meet-on-drought/article26968281.ece

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