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SC judgement has failed to address the immediate drought crisis: Devinder Sharma

Salma Rehman | Updated on: 10 February 2017, 1:49 IST

In a detailed judgement on the drought situation in the country, the Supreme Court pulled up states governments for their "ostrich-like attitude" towards the crisis which has affected 330 million people in the country.

The court also suggested a slew of measures to counter the crisis in response to a public interest litigation filed by non-profit organisation, Swaraj Abhiyan.

The petition asked the court to intervene in the drought situation and to direct governments to implement employment and food security schemes.

The court directed the government to formulate a national plan to revise the existing drought management manual that has not been updated since 2009. The court also directed the government to lay down a standard methodology and time frame for declaring a drought.

Catch spoke to agricultural commentator Devinder Sharma, who has been studying the drought very closely, about his take on the judgement.

Are you satisfied with the current judgement?

Not really. The judgement fails to address the immediate crisis in the country which is appalling. All of the suggestions listed are good enough for long term management but nothing concrete has been suggested on an urgent basis. Where are the provisions to help the people who have already been affected by the drought?

Also read: P { margin-bottom: 0.08in; }A:link { } Invisible calamity: drought leaves 16 crore kids vulnerable

Further the court was not too harsh while cracking down on the states who have failed to acknowledge the crisis and address it so far.

This is an extraordinary situation which requires extraordinary solution. Right now , for me the order seems extremely bureaucratic.

What do you suggest?

The court judgement fails to touch upon the issue of MGNREGA thoroughly. There has been a tug of war between the Centre and the opposition over the scheme which has proved futile in countering the situation.

The people reeling under the drought need provisions like living wage. Jan Dhan Yojana is ok but do not we require to provide the affected people with some money to make sure that they at least get food to survive.

On the similar lines there has been no discussion over the food distribution system. Just look at the contrast in the state of Uttar Pradesh where there were reports of food stock piling in ration shops where as on the other hand the advivasi families in Bundelkhand were forced to eat chapatis made out of weed.

Why are states like Haryana failing to recognise the crisis?

The court was absolutely right when it made the "ostrich-like attitude" remark. States like Haryana, Uttar Pradesh and Bihar are pretending that the situation is absolutely normal. Many of the deaths have been linked to heat wave not realising that it is actually the hunger which is killing people.

I have closely observed severe droughts in the country but this kind of lackadaisical attitude from the states and governments is astounding.

Also read: Bundelkhand drought: Centre offers 'water train', UP says it's of no useP { margin-bottom: 0.08in; }A:link { }

First published: 11 May 2016, 5:56 IST