Karnataka on austerity drive to aid flood-hit people


Bangalore: Karnataka Chief Minister B.S. Yeddyurappa Friday announced a blanket ban on foreign jaunts by ministers and officials and directed them to fly only economy class in a move to mobilise funds for flood relief.

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“As an austerity measure, there will be a blanket ban on foreign jaunts by ministers and officials during this fiscal. Ministers and top officials will fly in only economy class hereafter,” Yeddyurappa told reporters after a high-level meeting here.

The state government decided to cut non-plan expenditure by 10 percent this fiscal (2009-10) to mobilise resources for relief and rehabilitation work in the flood-affected districts.

Yeddyurappa also requested the prime minister to waive farm loans and enhance crop insurance amount to the affected farmers in the flood-hit areas.

“I have also written to the prime minister to sanction about 200,000 houses under the Indira Awas Yojana central scheme and central assistance to shift and rehabilitate the people living in the 220 low-lying villages that were worst affected in the floods,” Yeddyurappa said.

Rain havoc and flash floods Sep 29-Oct 2 in 15 districts of north Karnataka claimed 226 lives, destroyed about 501,400 houses, 7,800 head of cattle were lost, 4,290 villages were affected and 1.13 million hectares of crop land damaged.

In a related development, contributions to the Chief Minister’s Relief Fund from various social, religious and private organisations and individuals have crossed the Rs.1,000 crore mark.

“The state government employees have donated Rs.160 crore to the relief fund, comprising four months of dearness allowance and a day’s salary,” Revenue Minister G. Karunakara Reddy said.

Meanwhile, Yeddyurappa has decided to visit the flood-hit Raichur district Saturday to monitor relief and rehab works and spend a day or two during the Deepavali festival with the affected people.

“The chief minister will visit the relief camps in the district and issue relief cheques to the affected people personally,” Reddy added.