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

Noam Chomsky, top scholars ask NRIs to take stand on human rights violations in India

Counterview Desk
Renowned world scholars, including Noam Chomsky, James Petras, Angela Davis, Fredric Jameson, Bruno Latour, Ilan Pappe, Judith Butler, among others, have issued a statement castigating the Narendra Modi government for allegedly creating an environment of fear through arrests, intimidation and violence.

Actionable programme for 2019 polls amidst lynch mobs, caste violence, hate mongering

Counterview Desk
Reclaiming the Republic, a civil rights network, has released a document prepared under the chairmanship of Justice AP Shah (retired) -- and backed, among others, by Supreme Court advocate Prashant Bhushan, bureaucrat-turned-human rights activist Harsh Mander, economist Prabhat Patnaik, Right to transparency activist Anjali Bhardwaj and social scientist Yogendra Yadav  (click HERE for full list) -- with the "aim" of putting forth policy and legislative reforms needed to “protect” and “strengthen” the Constitutional safeguards for India’s democratic polity.

India under Modi "promoted" crony business, protected financial fraudsters, fueled bigotry

By Sandeep* and Rahul Pandey**
Narendra Modi's ascension to power was accompanied with jubilation and expectation. His supporters were expecting an end to era of corruption and initiation of good governance which was described as Achche Din. His party's adherence to idea of nationalism was believed to make India a vibrant country and guide India to be a world leader. He gave the slogan of 'Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas' conveying that his government was for all.
Corruption The government system is infested with corruption. A minimum of 10% is siphoned off from government schemes and projects, some of which goes back to political party in power and remaining is pocketed by various administrative, executive and political functionaries. This corruption continues and has increased. Now an additional Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh (RSS) person working as Official on Special Duty or some equivalent position in every government department also has a share in this booty.
The Narendra M…

Call to support IIM-Bangalore professor, censured for seeking action against Uniliver

Counterview Desk
Sections of the Indian Institute of Managements (IIMs) across India have strongly reacted to the decision to censure Dr Deepak Malghan, a faulty at IIM-Bangalore. Prabhir Vishnu Poruthiyil, who is faculty at IIM-Tiruchirapalli, has sought wider solidarity with Dr Malghan, saying, "The administration has censured Deepak for merely suggesting a meaningful action against Hindustan Unilever for their abysmal environmental record" by “disinviting” it for campus placement.

Inviting Rajapaksa to India "insult" to 1,40,000 Tamils killed by Sri Lankan army

Counterview Desk
In the context of Sri Lankan opposition leader Mahinda Rajapaksa being invited in India, about 75 human rights activists*, claiming to be concerned about rights violations during the civil war in Sri Lanka, especially in 2009, have joined together to express their dissent through a statement.

Modi wants Pak govt be held responsible for JeM terror strike: World doesn't agree

By Sandeep Pandey*
I went to participate in a candle light homage paying event at Dr BR Ambedkar's statue organised by about 200 Dalit students on Hazratganj main crossing in Lucknow on February 16, 2019 evening, two days after the dastardly terrorist act in Pulwana, Jammu and Kashmir (J&K), in which 44 Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) personnel was killed.

Post-advisory, Govt of India appears reluctant to ban e-cigarettes, "harmful" to kids

By Rajiv Shah
Is the Government of India dilly-dallying over the issue of banning e-cigarettes, which have been declared by anti-tobacco activists across the world as providing “an entryway to nicotine addiction”, especially among the kids? It would seem so, if the latest developments are any guide.

A Godse legacy? BJP rulers have "refrained" from calling Gandhi Father of the Nation

By Dr Hari Desai*
What an agony! On one hand, the entire India is celebrating the 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, but on the other side, so-called Hindu Mahasabha members have been found mock-enacting the killing of the Mahatma and celebrating the murder by distributing sweets!

No aadhaar, no ration? Hard blow by Gujarat govt on poor and marginalized

By Pankti Jog*
Only those who have aadhaar registration and linked it with ration card will get ration from a Public Distribution System (PDS) shop. This decision of the Gujarat government has hit very badly thousands of poor and marginalized communities of Gujarat, especially during the drought year.

World Bank needs a new perspective on development, not just a new president

By Maju Varghese*
The resignation of the World Bank President Jim Yong Kim was an unexpected development given the fact that he had three more years to complete his tenure. Resignations at such a high level after bidding for a second term is unusual which prompts people to think what would have led to the act itself.