Skip to main content

Apex court raps Gujarat for declaring drought "far too late", says govt hesitant in calling it drought even now

By Our Representative
A two judge bench of the Supreme Court of India has sharply criticized the Gujarat government for declaring drought-like situation “far too late” – in April. It said this while  telling Government of India not to tolerate "ostrich-like attitude" of Gujarat, Haryana and Bihar on drought, while giving directions on a public interest litigation (PIL) filed by the Aam Aadmi Party's breakaway group Swaraj Abhiyan.
The Gujarat government declared drought or “semi-scarcity” this month in 526 villages, followed by another 468 villages.
Taking strong exception to the Gujarat Relief Manual referring to confusing terms like “scarcity” and “semi-scarcity”, Justices Madan B Lokur and NV Ramana said, “The state government appears to be hesitant to use the word 'drought' even though a drought or a drought-like situation exists.”
Blaming it on “a lack of standardization in the annawari system of crop assessment”, the apex court said, “Gujarat takes 4 annas out of 12 annas as a base for determining if there is a drought-like situation. In areas where the crop cutting is between 4 annas and 6 annas, there is discretion in the state Government to declare or not to declare a drought.”
Asking the Union agriculture secretary “to urgently hold a meeting within a week with the chief secretary of Gujarat, along with those of Bihar and Haryana, to “review the apparent drought situation with all the available data”, the apex court insisted, they should be persuaded “to declare a drought in whichever district, taluka, tehsil or block is necessary.”
The apex court said, “It should be emphasized that there is no loss of face or prestige or dignity in the State Government declaring a drought if it is warranted, although succour to the distressed might be too late in the day.”
The agriculture secretary, the apex court said, might also “consider” convening meetings with the respective authorities which are supposed to deal with drought situations in Gujarat, Bihar and Haryana in order to identify “any threatening disaster situation or disaster.”
The writ petition was filed by the Swaraj Abhiyan in the backdrop of a declaration of drought in some districts or parts thereof in nine states that is Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Maharashtra, Odisha, Jharkhand and Chhattisgarh.
The Swaraj Abhiyan said, drought ought to be declared in most parts of Gujarat, Bihar and Haryana, even as seeking a direction from the apex court to declare a drought and provide essential relief and compensation to people affected by the drought.
The PIL said, the prayer for a declaration of drought in Gujarat has “seemingly become infructuous”, and there is a lot to say “about the response (or lack of it) by the state government in Gujarat.”
It said, all state governments should make available “timely payment” for employment (more particularly to the drought affected people) under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Generation Scheme framed under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act, 2005.
Further, it insisted, food grains should be made available as specified under the National Food Security Act, 2013 to the rural populace in the drought affected areas irrespective of their classification of being above the poverty line or below the poverty line.
It added, milk or eggs should be made available to all children who are covered by the Mid Day Meal Scheme or the Integrated Child Development Scheme in the drought affected areas, adding, crop loans for damaged crops and other debts of farmers in the drought affected areas should be restructured and a fair, objective and transparent package for crop loss compensation be fixed.

Comments

TRENDING

Savarkar 'criminally betrayed' Netaji and his INA by siding with the British rulers

By Shamsul Islam*
RSS-BJP rulers of India have been trying to show off as great fans of Netaji. But Indians must know what role ideological parents of today's RSS/BJP played against Netaji and Indian National Army (INA). The Hindu Mahasabha and RSS which always had prominent lawyers on their rolls made no attempt to defend the INA accused at Red Fort trials.

Buddhist shrines massively destroyed by Brahmanical rulers in "pre-Islamic" era: Historian DN Jha's survey

By Our Representative
Prominent historian DN Jha, an expert in India's ancient and medieval past, in his new book, "Against the Grain: Notes on Identity, Intolerance and History", in a sharp critique of "Hindutva ideologues", who look at the ancient period of Indian history as "a golden age marked by social harmony, devoid of any religious violence", has said, "Demolition and desecration of rival religious establishments, and the appropriation of their idols, was not uncommon in India before the advent of Islam".

Contempt of court? UP CM taking 'personal vendetta' against Dr Kafeel Khan: Activists

Counterview Desk
Demanding that the Uttar Pradesh government immediately release well-known paediatrician Dr Kafeel Khan, a group of more than 100 academicians, activists, researchers, doctors and lawyers have said in an open letter that he is being “targeted at the behest of the chief minister”, wondering, “When is an act of challenging the government a threat under the National Security Act (NSA)?”

A locked up offer? Govt of India 'not serious' in involving NGOs: IIM-A survey

By Rajiv Shah
Was the Government of India serious when it asked 92,000 civil society organizations (CSOs) in early April to “assist” state governments and district administrations in taking care of food, shelter and other needs of migrant workers, known to have been affected by Prime Minister Narendra Modi’ sudden 21-day lockdown in order to “combat” the spread of Covid-19 virus, announced on March 24?

Gujarat link of controversial US doctor who 'forced' WHO quiz Trump's wonder drug

By Rajiv Shah
A top American doctor, Sapan Sharankishor Desai, born and raised in the “affluent” North Shore (Chicago) region of Illinois by Indian parents, at one point of time involved in NGO activity through the Desai Foundation dedicated to “improving” the lives of the impoverished in Gujarat, is in the eyes of a major international storm following his paper in a “Lancet” questioning Donald Trump-promoted drug hydroxychloroquine.

Will Govt of India, ICMR end 'perverse' practice of extracting profits from ill-health?

By Asmita Verma, Surabhi Agarwal, Bobby Ramakant*
The Epidemics Act, 1897 gives the central and state governments authority to impose any regulations which may be necessary to contain the outbreak of a disease. Some state governments such as Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Chhatisgarh have already used this power to bring private healthcare facilities in their state under government control.

Dalits in India, Blacks in US suffer 'similar' humiliation: Macwan drafts letter to Trump

Counterview Desk
Well-known human rights activist Martin Macwan, recipient of the prestigious Robert F Kennedy Human Rights Award in 2000, has drafted an open letter to US President Donald Trump following the disturbing turn of events with the murder of George Floyd, leading to widespread protests in the US. He has sought signatures of concerned citizens before sending it to Trump.

Savarkar 'opposed' Bhagat Singh's, Netaji's dream of India, supported British war efforts

By Shamsul Islam*
In a shocking development, the student wing of the RSS put the busts of martyrs Bhagat Singh and Subhash Chandra Bose with Savarkar's on one pedestal at the University of Delhi late in the night on August 20, 2019. Bhagat Singh sacrificed his life for a socialist-democratic-secular republic and Netaji raised Azad Hind Fauj (INA) consisting of people of all religions and regions for armed liberation of India.

'Violation' of migrant workers' human rights: Legal notice to IIM-A director, govt babus

By Our Representative
Taking strong exception to the police action against protesting migrant workers off the Indian Institute of Management-Ahmedabad (IIM-A) on May 18, senior Gujarat High Court advocate Anandvardhan Yagnik, in a legal notice to the IIM-A director "on their behalf" has said that the workers had only been seeking to to go back to their home states, Jharkhand and West Bengal, for the last more than 20 days because they were not paid their “earned wages because of the lockdown.”