The Supreme Court on Wednesday asked the Centre to revise its guidebook on declaring drought and also sought a mandatory time-frame for states to announce the extreme weather condition.
The top court made several recommendations while delivering its verdict on a petition filed by an NGO seeking a standard policy for declaring drought, timely disbursement of crop loans, drought compensation and other relief packages.
The court also ordered creation of a disaster management force, mitigating plan and a disaster management fund to tackle the situation.
The court directed the agriculture secretary to sit with chief secretaries of Bihar, Haryana and Gujarat to review whether there is drought-like situation.
Stating that the nomenclature to declare drought should be standardised, the court asked the government to take into account farmers suicide, stress and migration factors while declaring drought.
During the last hearing, the Supreme Court was informed by the government that 256 districts were struggling under an acute early-summer water crisis sparked by two straight years of monsoon failure.
Additional solicitor general PS Narasimhan had presented data from 10 states that listed drought in 256 districts, home to 33 crore people or 25% of India’s population in 40% of the country’s total area.
But the Centre argued that it had no role to play in declaring a drought, prompting the top court to remind the government of its responsibility to advise the states if a drought-like situation is foreseen.