NEW DELHI: Government told Supreme Court that 256 districts with a population of about 33 crore spread over 12 states are affected by the drought.
Additional Solicitor General P.A. Narasimha, however, clarified that the declaration of a particular area as drought affected does not mean that the entire population of the area is affected by the natural calamity.
He said the total population in such areas may be 33 crore but the actual number of people affected by the drought is likely to be less than what is reflected in the gross population figures of affected districts.000000000000
The government faced tough questions from the Supreme Court on Tuesday on its handling of the drought situation in the country, with the top court asking whether it was not the Centre’s responsibility to warn the states that such a scenario was likely to prevail in the near future.
It also chided the Gujarat government for not filing an affidavit on the matter, saying “just because you are Gujarat doesn’t mean you can do whatever you like.””It is the responsibility of the Centre to inform and warn that these (drought-affected) states will receive less rainfall.”
“If you are told that 96 per cent crop is sown in a particular area of the state but you receive information of scanty rainfall, don’t just tell them that everything is right and think there is possibility of the Centre telling states about a possible drought,” a bench headed by Justice MB Lokur said.
The remark by the bench, also comprising Justice NV Ramana came as Additional Solicitor General PA Narasimha, submitted that 256 districts in 10 states were declared as drought-affected.
He said “the actual number of people affected by drought is likely to be less than what is reflected in gross population figures of such drought affected districts.”
The court directed the Centre to apprise it how many households in drought-hit areas got 150 days employment under MNREGA and asked it to submit a compilation of advisories on drought.
A bench of Justice Madan B Lokur and Justice N.V. Ramana said that about 25 per cent of the country’s total population is affected by the drought.
The court asked the Centre to apprise it that how many households in the drought-hit areas got 150 days employment under Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGA).
The Apex Court also said that the Centre should adopt modern technology to assess drought situation in the States instead of following eye estimation method which is not even mentioned in the mannual for drought management.
The Government also informed the court that it has released Rs 19,000 crore under the MGNREGA as a relief measure. The government said, farmers in drought-hit areas are entitled to restructuring or rescheduling of their loans from the bank.