SC orders Centre to prepare nat’l plan to tackle drought

Raj Kamal Rao
File Photo: File photo of Supreme Court of India. Photo - PTI

File Photo: File photo of Supreme Court of India.
Photo – PTI

Delivering the judgement in a Public Interest litigation filed by NGO Swaraj Abhiyan on Wednesday, Supreme Court directed the government of India to create a disaster mitigation fund to tackle drought- like situation in the country.

A two judge bench comprising of Justices Madan B. Lokur and N.V. Ramana directed the centre to revise the drought management manual and prepare aSC national plan to tackle the crisis

“This historic SC judgement indicates a paradigm shift from colonial famine code to a modern constitutional regime,” Said the Yogendra Yadav of Swaraj Abhiyan who is a petitioner in the case.

While delivering the judgement the court observed that lack of will is amply visible in Bihar, Gujarat and Haryana as they are hesitant to even acknowledge a possible drought-like situation by not disclosing full facts.

“Lack of will is amply demonstrated when Bihar, Gujarat & Haryana are hesitant to even acknowledge a possible drought by not disclosing,

Farmer,-Severe-Drought,-Crop-loss,-lack-of-water,-scanty-rainfallCriticising these states for poor drought mitigation measures court said that ‘sound of silence coming drought-hit states subjects the vulnerable to further distress.’

“It should be emphasized there is no loss of face or prestige or dignity in the State Govt declaring a drought if it is warranted,” it said

Swaraj Abhiyan argued that drought affected states like UP, Karnataka, Bihar, MP, Bihar, Haryana along with 6 other states were hit by drought and the authorities were not providing adequate relief.

Quoting Tilak in its judgement, the bench said that the problem is not lack of resources or capability, but the lack of will.

Court has ordered the government to constitute a National Disaster Response Force with its own specialist cadre within a period of six months from today. It has asked the centre establish a National Disaster Mitigation Fund for proper infrastructure within three months from today.

National Plan for drought mitigation and a sound Drought Management Manual to for declaring a time limit for drought and declaration are also part of the guidelines framed by Supreme Court

While framing the guidelines that court said that Disaster Management Act, 2005 has all these provisions and centre never implemented.

Additional Solicitor General P S Narasimha who appeared on behalf of the Union government told the bench on that Centre is alive to the situation prevailing in the drought-hit areas and states are working hard to provide every possible relief to the farmers.

Earlier, the apex court had told the Centre whether it was not its responsibility to warn the states about the drought like situation likely to prevail in the near future.

The court had expressed its concern over low compensation paid to calamity-hit farmers and observed that it was leading some of them to commit suicide.