Krishna seeks Rs. 550-cr. Central aid

NEW DELHI JULY 26. Karnataka today urged the Centre to release Rs. 553.25 crores and six lakh tonnes of foodgrains to enable the State to carry out drought relief works.

The demand was made by the Chief Minister, S.M.Krishna, who led an all-party delegation to the Prime Minister, Atal Behari Vajpayee, and other Union ministers, and apprised them of the situation in the State, where 123 of the 175 taluks had been reeling under drought. Mr. Krishna and his team told presspersons that after assessing the rainfall received till July 15, and its impact on agriculture, drinking water, and employment, the State Government had worked out the funds required to carry out relief works.

The Prime Minister, the delegation said, had agreed in principle to release the foodgrains while the quantity was yet to be determined.

The delegation, which also met the Union Finance Minister, Jaswant Singh, and the Union Textile Minister, Kanshiram Rana, took up the plight of small and marginal coffee growers, the grievances of tobacco growers, problems of the silk rearers and falling prices of arecanut in the State.

Referring to problems of coffee growers, the State demanded that support price operation by the Government to stabilise domestic price be set in motion and outstanding interest as on date on all coffee loans availed by growers from commercial banks and cooperative financial institutions be re-phased, and extension of RBI moratorium from two years to three years, among other demands.

Pleading the case of tobacco growers, the delegation pointed out the disparity in the quota of tobacco to be grown in Karnataka compared with Andhra Pradesh. The demands included provision for additional auction platforms in the State, fixing proper crop size by the Tobacco Board, regularisation of 23,000 unauthorised barns, and reshaping the board by removing imbalances in representation and providing minimum support price.

On the problems being faced by silk growers, the delegation said the price of silk yarn had crashed on account of substantive imports of raw silk and silk fabrics, particularly from China. Apart from suggesting Central intervention so that Karnataka retained its status as a major silk producer, the State had suggested enhancement of import duty to a minimum of 85 per cent and as an interim measure link imports of raw silk to export of silk and silk goods. The delegation also urged that firm steps be taken to check illegal entry of raw silk from the eastern borders, creation of a revolving fund for market intervention, and urged the Centre to contribute Rs. 100 crore for the same.

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