The Supreme Court Wednesday warned the Centre against repeating last year’s mistake and asked it to declare a drought condition well in time to tackle the situation better.
“We are concerned about the approach. You should change your mindset. Don’t repeat last year’s mistake of not declaring drought on time. Don’t dig the well when the house is on fire,” remarked a bench of Justices Madan B Lokur and N V Ramana.
The bench pointed out that several districts in the country had received deficient rainfall and a situation like last year could emerge again when delay in declaring drought had affected relief work.
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Additional Solicitor General P S Narasimha, appearing for the Union government, however, said that they were dealing with the drought-like situation appropriately and the process to revise the drought manual was also underway.
Advocate Prashant Bhushan, appearing for the petitioner NGO, Swaraj Abhiyan, highlighted that several districts had reported deficient rainfall as per IMD data.
To this, the bench told the ASG that by now the Centre must have got an idea of rainfall details across the country and asked whether it had issued any advisory to the affected states in this regard. The bench said that as per data supplied to it, 12 districts in Bihar, 32 in Uttar Pradesh, 11 in Punjab and 13 in Gujarat had received deficient rainfall.
Narasimha replied that advisories had been issued to these states about the emerging situation. “Our idea is that you are ready for the future (and) past mistakes are not repeated. You should be prepared for the situation, although the condition is not as bad as it was last year,” said the bench.
The court also questioned Maharashtra over its failure to give response on the appointment of District Grievance Redressal Officer (DGRO) under the National Food Security Act.
“How is it that you don’t have any instructions? Is this how you treat people? People are dying of malnutrition and you don’t care about them. How is that the state government has not given you any instruction?” asked the bench.