People's Democracy

(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)


No. 44

November 01, 2009

Floods Cause Devastation In Karnataka




KARNATAKA has been in the grip of unprecedented floods. The fury of the floods has washed away more than 200 people and three lakh houses in North Karnataka. Large-scale damage has resulted to the tune of Rs 25,000 crore. Though the people of North Karnataka are not unfamiliar with droughts and floods, such severity of floods has not been seen in the last 55 years. This is coupled with the shocking rises in the prices of essential commodities. The most affected districts are Bagalkote, Bijapur, Raichur, Koppal, Gulbarga, Bidar, Belgaum, Dharwad, Gadag, Haveri, Bellary, Davanagere, Chithradurga, Dakshina Kannada, Uttara Kannada, Udupi and Shimoga.




About 1500 villages were flooded and more than seven lakh people have become homeless. As a result, about 6.5 lakh people are dependent on 2000 ganji kendras (temporary food outlets) which are being run by the government and other non-governmental organisations. Besides the death of thousands of domestic animals, it has completely destroyed 25 lakh hectares of standing crops which include paddy, jowar, soya, chilly, groundnut, cotton, tur dal, grape, coffee, sunflower, etc. It has washed away a large number of borewells and pumpsets, roads, bridges, water tanks, etc in the flood hit areas, which has further intensified the misery of the people. Unavailability of potable water has further contributed to this misery. Large tracts of agricultural land have lost their fertility. People have been struggling hard without food to eat, water to drink and shelter to live.

The BJP government of the state is, however, totally callous to the situation.

Though the meteorological department had warned about heavy rainfall a week in advance, the BJP government�s machinery was busy in dussehra celebrations. Even as the floods were claiming hundreds of lives, chief minister Yediyurappa and his ministerial colleagues were engaged in listening to communal sermons delivered by the fascist RSS and Modi in their baithaks. When the people were crying for help sitting on rooftops and trees, there was no one to help.

The fact is that beside being deaf and dumb when it is a question of rushing some relief to the masses, the BJP government is itself in a crisis.

The government says the relief works will necessitate a rise in taxes, and this issue too has put the BJP government into a crisis. The BJP government is contemplating to increase the burden of taxes on the common man under the pretext of mobilising resources for the relief works.

Chief minister Yediyurappa tried to increase the tax of Rs 1,000 on each lorry carrying ores from the Bellary mines to the port. But this angered a section of the cabinet ministers who represent and protect the mine mafia. The group of rebellious cabinet ministers is conducting separate meetings with the MLAs of their group, and this has pushed the relief work into the background. As a result, if a small section of the cabinet and bureaucracy was posing a semblance of attention to the relief works in the beginning, it has also got jeopardised. The entire administration thus stands paralysed.

The callousness of the government is evident also from the fact that it is asking the flood victims to produce their ration card in order to provide them provide food.

The commitment of this government was exposed by its own dictum that only those who produce ration cards or voter ID cards would be provided food at the ganji kendras. When the people have lost everything that belonging to them, nothing could be more inhumane and brutal than asking for identity proofs to provide food to a dying man. It has already wound up the ganji kendras at many places.




That the BJP is playing politics with the relief work is clear from the fact that government funds are now routed through the RSS. It is relying more on the RSS and its outfit, the Sevabharati, for the relief work and has been routing the public fund through these two organisations.

Though the state BJP government has announced a number of relief measures like construction of three lakhs house, rehabilitation of 220 villages, compensation for crop losses, compensation to the people who have lost their houses, etc, the affected people realised in no time that these announcements are nothing but mere advertisements.

After all said and done, it is for the BJP ministers the time to loot. The state government neither has the commitment to undertake relief work and to provide food to affected people nor has transparency in collection and distribution of funds collected from the public. There has been large-scale fund collection from the industries by BJP ministers under the guise of flood relief. The nexus between politicians, contractors and bureaucracy has ensured that contract works like roads, bridges, construction of houses, etc are entrusted to the liked ones.

Further, what added insult to this injury is the central government's stand that this could not be declared as a natural calamity. The central government thus washed off its hands by releasing a mere Rs 1,000 crore, a pittance.

However, even the grand old Congress party has done very little for the aam aadmi, by whom it swears, by involving its rank and file in the relief work.

It is high time the state and the central governments must intensify efforts to provide relief to the people under the Mahatma Gandhi Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGREGA), and take steps to prevent corruption and leakages. It needs to conduct the relief works in such a way as to help the poor farmers, agricultural workers and other sections of the common people.




The Karnataka state committee of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) has directed all party units to plunge into relief operations. The party�s state secretariat members G N Nagaraj, K Neela, and Nithyananda Swamy immediately visited the flood-hit areas. Its state committee members Maruthi Manpade, Basavaraj, Bheemsi Kalladgi, and Anna Rai Iliger also visited the submerged areas. District committee and taluk committee members in these areas are constantly through the affected villages. They organised agitations for immediate relief and gheroed ministers in two places, demanding immediate attention and relief. The party has given a call for collection of funds. The Kisan Sabha has also given a call for protests and agitation all over the state demanding relief. A jatha was conducted among the affected people in Bellary district. Lakhs of rupees have already been collected and three completely submerged villages have been identified for relief measures.

On October 26, the CPI(M), CPI and Forward Bloc organised a convention to press for comprehensive and quick relief to the flood affected people besides demanding action against the rising food price and for food security. The CPI(M)�s Polit Bureau member Sitaram Yechury, MP, inaugurated the convention while Kerala government�s food minister Divakar and West Bengal�s agriculture and civil supplies minister Narain Dev participated in this convention. During the convention, Yechury distributed food materials to some flood affected families.

The convention put forward the following demands:

1) The central government must declare these floods as a natural calamity and provide the victims maximum possible support.

2) There must be Rs five lakh compensation to the family of each person who died in this calamity.

3) For the next 3 months, 35 kg of food grains and kerosene must be supplied to all the affected

people free of cost.

4) Rs One lakh must be provided for reconstruction of all the collapsed and damaged houses.

5) Free potable water must be supplied to the flood-hit areas. Spread of communicable diseases must be prevented.

6) Compensation of Rs 10,000 acre per acre to the peasants must be provided and the loans they owe must be waived off.

7) Banks must provide interest free loan to develop the agricultural land which has been washed off.

8) Damaged pumpsets must be repaired. Compensation must be paid to the people who have lost domestic animals.

9) Road and electricity connectivity must be restored on a war footing.

10) All tax collection must immediately stop in the affected areas. All school fees, exam fees must be waived off. Midday meal must be extended to the night time as well.

11) MHREGA must be extended to 200 days in a year and the daily wage under it increased to Rs 200.