The Supreme Court Thursday reproached the Centre and BJP-ruled states of Haryana and Gujarat for their laxity in dealing with the drought situation and providing assistance to the parched regions.
Hearing a PIL filed by the NGO Swaraj Abhiyan, the Bench of Justice Madan B Lokur and Justice N V Ramana first took to task the Central government, as the latter sought an adjournment on the ground that its law officer, Additional Solicitor General Pinky Anand, was busy in some other court.
“Is this not your priority? Two judges are sitting here. You expect us to do nothing and just keep looking at the watch waiting for time to pass. Two Supreme Court judges have no other job but to come, sit here, stare at the clock and then go back. You are absolutely non-serious,” remarked the bench.
ASG Anand rushed to the court after the message was delivered to her.
The Bench then came down heavily on Gujarat and Haryana governments for filing shoddy statistics on the drought-hit areas. “Why have you filed all this? You found these papers in your office and filed them here? Is this seriousness that you show on this issue? People are dying. This is not some picnic you are having in Haryana,” the court said while trashing statistics filed by the state government.
During the hearing, the Gujarat government told the Bench that 526 villages in three districts were declared as drought-affected in the state. It also said that the National Food Security Act has been implemented and a notification was issued in this regard from April 1.
At this, the bench asked the state’s counsel why the government had waited till April 1 to declare drought when the situation was clear in September last year. The Gujarat government replied that local polls had delayed declaration of drought in the state. “Will all work stop if there are elections?” retorted the Bench.
On March 31, the apex court had asked the Centre to say how many states had drought management cells and why no district-level disaster management authorities have been set up. It had suggested that the Centre, with the help of satellite data, should analyse the expected rainfall in the monsoon season and take effective steps to tackle drought-like situations on time.