Ms. Shobha Karandlaje is a politician from Karnataka and is currently a member of the Lok Sabha representing the Udupi-Chickmagalur constituency. She was earlier a cabinet minister in the Government of Karnataka.
What are the main problems in Karnataka agriculture today?
Main problem we are facing in agriculture is water. We need proper water management. Karnataka is blessed with many rivers, from Bhima to Kaveri. In between Tungabhadra and Sharavati we have many rivers but there is no proper use of the available water in these rivers. First concern is to use that water optimally. Secondly the available water has to be used to irrigate all the farmland by using the proper channels.
Another problem is power. Many of our districts are suffering by drought. In drought prone area, we are not providing proper electricity. There is scarcity of drinking water, paucity of fodder. It is difficult to lift water from bore wells. Bore wells are not recharging. We don’t have that capacity.
Third problem faced is providing farmers with good seeds and fertilizers. Sometimes fake thing are sourced due to which farmers suffer.
Finally, we don’t have cold storages to export our farm produces. In Kolar, farmers will produce tomatoes and throw it in the street because they don’t have facility to store the produce. We don’t have proper planning for crop cultivation. The farm produce can’t be retained for a long time. As time passes it perishes and has to be thrown away. All these aspects need to be planned namely irrigation, electricity, utilizing rain water, rain water harvesting and also the production.
Karnataka also has many tanks, but we are neither (de) silting our tanks nor the dams. The dams are fully silted hence water will not stay. We could also not use the Alamatti Narayanpura dam fully because of prevailing water dispute. We are not even using the allocated water properly.
This is why our farmers are really suffering. Government must plan for the proper channels. Congress has said “Congress in nadige Krishneya kadege” – we are walking to Krishna to give water for that area. But in last two years they have failed in that. They are not allocating fund for the same and even work has not started. These are the problems faced by the farmers.
What were your main big achievements when you were Rural development and Panchayat Raj minister in Karnataka?
First I had transparency in the department. I appointed PDOs because our Gram Panchayat Secretaries were not educated. Attenders, watermen were promoted as secretaries. In reservation category people became president of the Gram Panchayat. They too were not educated hence could not see the files and process related things. That is why I thought if Gram Panchayati President and Secretary both are of same cadre it will be really difficult to manage. Therefore in each Panchayat, a Panchayat Development Officer was appointed who was a degree holder. That I did.
I cancelled piece work in Gram Panchayat because if a Gram Panchayat gets Rs. 5 Lakhs and there are twenty members they used to share the money amongst them. Money could not be used and gets wasted. That is why I cancelled ‘Piece Tender’.
I planned Swarna Grama for rural development that means for each Panchayat we used to give Rs. 1-2 crores depending on its population. Concrete roads were made in all the areas along with good drainage. I also made one Samudaya Bhavan like committee hall. During my tenure we developed 5,000 villages in Karnataka.
We planned for rural roads, rural drainages and proper drinking water in villages.
Do you think the present government is continuing the work you started?
They are not continuing Suvarna Gramas. They are not giving money. They are not continuing the Suvarna Bhumi Yojana. And also they don’t have proper plan for rural roads. Government of India is providing finance. They have given per head Rs. 430- from center to each Gram Panchayat across the village. If Gram Panchayat has 10 thousand people they will get Rs. 43 Lakhs but the present Government is misusing that money. In that money 25% is used for electricity bill. Paying electricity bill in that money! Government of India is giving money for infrastructure, but this Government is misusing that money also. They are not spending money from their pocket or their budget and they are misusing the funds received from Central Government too. This is what is happening in Karnataka.
Under the ‘Swachh Bharat Abhiyan’ program Government of India has already given lots of money for toilets, rural toilets. SC/ST are given Rs. 15,000 and other castes are given Rs. 12,000. Government of Karnataka should add some more money to it and use the funds properly then only the open defecation will be stopped. Else across North Karnataka districts people still go for open defecation. This is a big issue in Karnataka. Government of India is ready to help with building toilets by giving money. They are ready to give any amount for the work done but this Government is not doing! They have not properly planned for fluorine water or giving surface water or toilets or roads nothing is happening. All departments are paralysed in last two years.
Being the Member of Parliament for Udupi-Chickmagalur constituency in the last 1.5 years what have you done for the farmers in your constituency ?
In Udupi and Chikmagalur mainly arecanut is grown. Arecanut is a big issue in this area now as last time UPA Government submitted a memorandum to Supreme Court that arecanut should be banned. This will affect my area. They mentioned that arecanut will cause many illnesses like cancer etc. This is not true! Adding some chemicals to arecanut and chewing that is problem creator. Ban those chemicals, not arecanut! We explained the same to Prime Minister, health minister and commerce minister. We told that arecanut is not injurious to health.
It is not fair to mark arecanut bad by adding chemicals. It is against our farmers. We want them to take the raw arecanut and test it. It doesn’t have any chemicals. It is been grown for past many centuries. It is also associated with religious beliefs and is being used for all religious ceremonies. The Central Government is ready to argue this case in Supreme Court.
Second concern is coffee. Coffee growers are also in problem. Some indiscernible disease is affecting the coffee growing region. Erratic rainfall is our worry. Fishermen in the region too are having many tribulations. We are discussing these issues with central Government.
Agriculture is a state subject. Unfortunately State Government is not cooperating with us and they are not even interested to do so. They are not meeting our central ministers to discuss the problems. They are not doing anything. At party level they will see everything not at Government level. BJP is separate, Congress is separate and Government is separate. You have to take help from Central Government and do something in the state but this Government is not ready to do that. Even for Prime Minister and other ministers they are seeing as they are BJP people. They are not BJP people they are Prime Minister and other ministers of India.
Interviewed by Kartik Isvarmurti
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Profile from Wikipedia
Ms. Shobha Karandlaje is a politician from Karnataka. As member of the 16th Lok Sabha of India she represents the Udupi-Chickmagalur constituency. She was a cabinet minister in the Government of Karnataka. She was born on October 23, 1966.
She belongs to Puttur in Coastal Karnataka. Ms. Karandlaje joined Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh. At a young age she was one of full-time women workers of the Sangh Parivar. RSS gave her the support when she decided to join politics. In different capacities she has served the Bharatiya Janata Party prior to her appointment as an MLC in 2004.
In May, 2008 she was elected as MLA from Yeswanthpur, Bangalore. This got her appointed as the minister for rural development and Panchayat Raj in the B.S. Yeddyurappa Government. Her performance as the RDPR minister was appreciated and she gained the recognition as a good administrator. However in 2009 she resigned from her position because of political crisis but was re-instated in 2010. In the Jagadish Shettar Government she held the position of power minister along with that she had the add-on responsibility of food and civil supplies department.
In 2014 Indian general election she contested from Udupi Chikmagalur (Lok Sabha constituency). She won the election by a huge margin of 1.84 Lakh Votes.