Tamil Nadu

T.N. seeks ₹1,000-cr. special package in Union Budget to tackle drought

A never-ending wait: A serpentine queue of empty pots in Chennai’s Pallavaram on Friday stands testimony to the severe water crisis gripping the city.

A never-ending wait: A serpentine queue of empty pots in Chennai’s Pallavaram on Friday stands testimony to the severe water crisis gripping the city.   | Photo Credit: B_VELANKANNI RAJ

Panneerselvam says unprecedented water shortage in the State has triggered an agrarian crisis.

Deputy Chief Minister O. Panneerselvam on Friday requested the Centre to grant a special package of ₹1,000 crore to Tamil Nadu in the Union Budget, to be presented on July 5, to tackle the severe drought in various parts of the State.

Speaking at the pre-Budget meeting of Finance Ministers from all States, chaired by Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman in Delhi on Friday, Mr. Panneerselvam sought the Centre’s assistance to augment irrigation structures in drought-prone areas and to address agrarian distress and drinking water crisis, similar to the allocation made to Maharashtra.

“The country is facing severe drought and its impact is significantly more severe in Tamil Nadu. The vagaries of the monsoon, climatic change, unending inter-State river water disputes and fast depleting groundwater level have all led to an unprecedented water crisis in Tamil Nadu,” Mr. Panneerselvam, who holds the Finance portfolio, said.

Increased allocation of funds under Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchayi Yojana and Har Khet Ko Pani schemes, allocation for modernising Grand Anicut canal system at a cost of ₹17,600 crore as estimated by the Central Water Commission, the Godavari-Cauvery linking project and diversion of the surplus waters of the Godavari to Tamil Nadu were highlighted by Mr. Panneerselvam.

Flood mitigation

He reiterated the State’s request to expedite the external funding for comprehensive flood mitigation project for Greater Chennai and its peri-urban areas. Since prevailing drought led to severe water crisis in the State, the Deputy Chief Minister called for the Centre’s support to strengthen the existing drinking water supply systems.

Pointing out that the allocation for the Centrally-sponsored schemes such as the National Rural Drinking Water Programme had been reduced drastically in recent times, he said it was time the Centre had a re-look at this issue and enhanced the allocation substantially to improve the drinking water supply on sustainable basis in rural areas.

Increasing the minimum income to poor farmers under the Pradhan Mantri Kisan Samman Nidhi (PM-KISAN), reiteration of earlier request for additional allocation of ₹6,000 crore for Cyclone Gaja restoration work, request for a special budgetary allocation of ₹7,077 crore for creating multi-hazard resistant power transmission infrastructure, pending request for expansion of Chennai Metro Rail Project’s Phase-II were among the issues emphasised by the Minister.

“We have been repeatedly requesting the Government of India for providing special allocation to the States adversely affected by the 14th Finance Commission recommendations,” he said.

The pending IGST arrears of ₹4,458 crore to Tamil Nadu from 2017-18 was also highlighted by Mr. Panneerselvam.

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Printable version | Feb 21, 2020 3:09:49 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/tamil-nadu/tn-seeks-1000-cr-special-package-in-union-budget-to-tackle-drought/article28103995.ece

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