Supreme court has directed the Centre to submit a detailed chart of 10 drought-hit states and specify the number of people and districts including villages affected by it. The apex court also asked the Centre to provide details with regard to notification on declaration of drought and sought budgetary allocations of National Disaster Response Force and State Disaster Response Fund.
Additional Solicitor General PS Narsimha said the power to declare drought is completely vested with the states and the Centre has no role other than providing funds and placing a monitoring system. The bench headed by Justice MB Lokur is examining various aspects of relief given to drought-hit farmers during the hearing of a PIL filed by NGO Swaraj Abhiyan.
Advocate Prashant Bhushan appearing for petitioner demanded the appointment of court commissioner to look after implementation of guidelines on drought. The Additional Solicitor General, ASG opposed demand saying there is already a statutory regime in place. The ASG said the government is looking at revising the crop compensation paid to farmers for the coming year and has constituted a committee on it.
Earlier, the court had expressed its concern over low compensation paid to calamity-hit farmers and observed that it is leading some of them to commit suicide. The NGO, in its revised prayer, has sought a direction to Centre to abide by the provisions of MNREGA Act and use it for employment generation in drought-affected areas. The hearing remained inconclusive and will continue on April 19.