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Posted at: May 12, 2016, 1:29 AM; last updated: May 12, 2016, 1:29 AM (IST)

SC pulls up three states for laxity on drought

Censures Haryana, Bihar and Gujarat for ‘ostrich-like’ attitude in addressing the problem

Impact on economy pegged at Rs 6.5 lakh cr

  • Drought in 10 states is estimated to impact the economy by at least Rs 6.5 lakh crore as about 33 crore people across 256 districts are facing the grave situation, a study has revealed
  • The impact of drought is likely to remain for at least six months more because one needs resources and time to revive the activities on ground even if monsoon is predicted to be normal this year, it says. PTI.

Inter-linking of rivers not feasible: Joshi

  • Inter-linking of rivers might not be feasible in most parts of the country as most rivers in India were already short of water, said veteran BJP leader Murli Manohar Joshi on Wednesday
  • Asked if the inter-linking of rivers can be a solution to India's water woes, Joshi said: "It is a complicated issue. Ken and Betwa rivers can be linked, but Ken and Ganga cannot be. All rivers are drying, how can you link the rivers?"
  • "Inter-linking of rivers needs much debate. It is feasible only in some places. The idea of linking rivers from the Ganga to the Kaveri is not possible," he said. IANS
SC pulls up three states for laxity on drought
Villagers walk on the dry bed of Karad’s Mervewadi lake, which supplies drinking water to five Maharashtra villages. PTI

R Sedhuraman

Legal Correspondent

New Delhi, May 11

The Supreme Court today directed the Union Agriculture Secretary to hold a meeting with Chief Secretaries of Haryana, Bihar and Gujarat in a week to review the “apparent” drought situation in the three states which was not being addressed by the state governments due to their “ostrich-like” attitude and “denial mode”.

A Bench comprising Justices Madan B Lokur and NV Ramana pointed out that according to the Agricultural Drought Assessment Report for October 2015, 12 of the 21 districts of Haryana had suffered drought. Prepared by the Mahalanobis National Crop Forecast Centre and the National Remote Sensing Centre of the Department of Space, the report showed that drought was mild in eight districts and moderate in four.

The Haryana Government had also acknowledged in the SC that the rainfall deficit was more than 25 per cent in 11 districts—Bhiwani, Palwal, Fatehabad, Hissar, Jind, Kaithal, Mohendergarh, Panchkula, Panipat, Rohtak and Ambala. The state government had, however, pleaded with the Bench that there was no need for declaring drought in any district as the foodgrain production mainly depended on irrigation through canals, tubewells and wells that met 83 per cent of the requirements. Due to this, the kharif 2015 production was 3.2 per cent more than the output in the previous year.

Gujarat and Bihar also cited similar reasons for not declaring drought. If drought was declared, the states would be in a position to get additional funds from the Centre for providing 150 days of employment in a year to the affected people under the MGNREGA scheme, instead of 100 days in other areas, PIL petitioner Swaraj Abhiyan had pleaded with the SC.

Further, the affected people, particularly the poor, would be entitled to other benefits under the National Food Security Act and the National Disaster Management Act. The drought-hit people were being denied of all this because of the state governments’ refusal to declare drought in the affected areas, the petitioner contended.

The apex court pointed out that the Centre had acknowledged that 234 districts in 12 states were facing drought. While nine states had declared drought, the three had refused.

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