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Posted at: May 14, 2016, 1:41 AM; last updated: May 14, 2016, 1:41 AM (IST)

Give subsidised grains to drought-hit: SC

Mid-day meals during vacation

  • The SC has asked states to give children in affected areas one egg or 200 gm of milk a day for six days a week under the Mid-Day Meal Scheme
  • The scheme should be run even during the summer vacation when schools are closed
  • States have been told to present a 'realistic budget' for MNREGA, Centre asked to release 'adequate funds'

R Sedhuraman

Legal Correspondent

New Delhi, May 13

The Supreme Court today directed the drought-hit states to provide highly subsidised foodgrains to the affected people under the National Food Security (NFS) Act. The states are Gujarat, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Maharashtra, Odisha, Jharkhand and Chhattisgarh.

A Bench comprising Justices Madan B Lokur and NV Ramana, which had delivered the first chapter of its judgment on a PIL over drought on May 11, today came out with three more chapters to issue several directives to the affected states.

In the first chapter, the Bench had pulled up Haryana, Gujarat and Bihar for refusing to declare drought despite a sharp fall in the monsoon rains, a primary indicator for assessing people’s distress arising from water scarcity and crop failure. Gujarat declared drought only in some areas that too very late.

Today, the Bench directed all 12 states, including Haryana and Bihar, to provide 5 kg foodgrains per person a month at the price meant for below poverty line (BPL) families and this should be given to even those above the poverty line (APL) and those not holding ration cards.

Each household should be given 2 kg dal (lentil) per month at Rs 30 per kg and one litre edible oil at Rs 25 per litre through the public distribution system.

Children affected by drought should be provided one egg or 200 gm of milk a day for six days a week under the Mid-Day Meal Scheme, which should be run even during the summer vacation when schools were closed.

The Bench noted that several states had not yet implemented the NFS Act, notified by the Centre two years ago. Parliament which passed the law “is left a mute spectator. Does our Constitution countenance such a situation? Is this what federalism all about,” the Bench asked. This could only lead to utter chaos or worse, it warned.

It directed all state governments to present a “realistic budget” for the employment guarantee scheme (MNREGA) and the Centre to release “adequate funds” for the states.

The apex court clarified that the delivery of the judgment in four chapters would not bring the curtains down on the PIL case by NGO Swaraj Abhiyan as the Bench would continue to monitor the drought relief measures. It posted the case for next hearing on August 1.

Rlys withdraws Rs 4-cr water bill

The Railways on Friday withdrew the Rs 4-crore water bill sent to the Latur district administration and promised to continue to run water trains to cater to the need of the people in the parched areas of Marathwada region till the crisis is over. pti

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