Bangalore: Kota Srinivas Poojary Seeks Divine Help for Rains at Rs 18.5 Crore
From Our Special Correspondent
Daijiworld Media Network - Bangalore
Bangalore, Jul 20: With one of the worst-ever drought staring at Karnataka this year on account of the failure of monsoon, the State Government has decided to seek divine help to rush to the rescue of the State through bountiful rains, by making arrangements to hold special pujas in all the temples at a cost of Rs 18.5 crore.
The State Government has sent an official circular to the 37,000 temples in the State under the purview of the Muzrai or Religious Endowment Department for offering these special pujas to profiate the rain gods, according to the newly inducted Muzari Minister Kota Srinivasa Poojary.
Poojary, who is an MLC from the Udupi district, told reporters that the Government has sanctioned a sum of Rs 5,000 each to each of the temples for holding the official pujas which will be held on the two days, July 27 and August 2.
''The dates have been selected as they are considered very auspicious with the belief that rain gods must bless the State,” he explained.
Poojary said Churches and Mosques in the state have also been asked to conduct special prayers for rain.
The minister said the Government has asked the temples coming under the purview
of the Muzrai Department under his control to pray to the gods so that the State is blessed with bountiful rains.
''There is nothing wrong in offering any special prayers or pujas,” he contended explaining that the pujas must be sincere.
The crops will be good and agricultural production will increase only if we have rains, he said pointing out that as many as 123 out of the 176 taluks were reeling under severe drought conditions with shortage of drinking water. Apart from the people even the cattle were affected by non-availability of water or sufficient fodder due to the monsoon failure, he said.
''I know some people don’t believe that offering pujas may not help in bringing rains. But there is a large section of the people who offer pujas and prayers for solving their problems and failure of monsoon is a severe problem,” he said pointing out that there was nothing wrong if special pujas were performed to profitiate rain gods.
The move, however, came in for flak from JD(S) as the party’s floor leader and former minister M C Nanaiah criticised the government’s decision in the Legislative Council.
Instead of spending Rs 18.5 crore to perform special pujas, the government could spend the same amount to take up drought relief works, he said.
The JD(S) deputy leader in the Assembly Bandeppa Kashempur said the Government should take up drought relief works on a war footing. ''Instead of wasting tax-payers money on pujas, the Government could spend the amount by providing free food the people in the affected taluks,” he suggested.
The Chief Minister Jagadish Shettar, soon after assuming charge, met Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on July 17 in New Delhi and sought an immediate Central aid of Rs 2,000 crore.
The state government is yet to calculate the extent of crop loss in this monsoon season of deficient rain. Among the many states of India now facing drought, Karnataka is one of the worst hit. Large parts of north and central Karnataka have recorded almost 27 per cent deficient rainfall.
Cong, JD(S) Demand Waiver of Farm Loans
Meanwhile, the Opposition Congress and JD(S) members, participating in the debate on the drought situation in the State Assembly demanded that the State Government must waive all the crop loans availed by farmers last year as they will not be able to repay even the interest much less the principal amount.
Continuing the debate on drought in the Legislative Assembly, Leader of the Opposition Siddaramaiah and (S) floor leader H D Revanna urged the government to waive crop loans borrowed by all farmers as one time measure.
The farming sector in the State was in distress and the farmers were in a pitiable condition. Waving of crop loans borrowed last year and early settlement of crop insurance amount for farmers for damaged crops would provide some relief to farmers, they said.
Noting that 90 per cent of the sown crops damaged on account of deficit rainfall, Siddaramaiah said continued load-shedding, deletion of 30 lakh BPL ration cards, non-release of social security pension amounts, denial of jobs under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme and non-implementation of drought relief measures adversely affected the daily life of farmers and the poor, he said.
“If this trend continued, the farmers are left with only two options – either to indulge in criminal activities or commit suicide,” the Congress leader said.
He demanded the Government, which presented Rs 1 lakh crore budget, to set aside Rs 5000 crore to mitigate drought.
The Government handled the drought situation poorly and it had not even spent Rs 700 crore sanctioned by the Centre last year.
“Ministers neither conduct review meetings nor visit villages to gather information about drinking water and fodder shortage,” he said.