The Supreme Court on Thursday came down heavily on Gujarat and Haryana governments for their non-seriousness in dealing with drought.
A bench comprising Justices MB Lokur and NV Ramana took both state governments to task for filing shoddy statistics on drought-hit areas and asked them whether all work would stop in case there are elections.
“Why have you filed all this? You found these papers in your office and filed them here? Is this the seriousness that you show on this issue? People are dying. This is not some picnic you are having in Haryana,” the bench observed.
The court expressed displeasure over the absence of additional solicitor general Pinky Anand during the hearing. “Two Supreme Court judges have no other job but to come, sit here and look at the clock,” the bench said. When the message was passed, Anand rushed to court.
The Gujarat government told the bench that a total of 526 villages in three districts were declared drought-affected, adding that the National Food Security Act was implemented and a notification issued on April 1. The court then asked Gujarat why it waited till April 1 to declare drought when the situation was clear in September 2015.
Gujarat government replied that local polls delayed it when the bench asked, “Will all work stop if there are elections?”
Rs 15,000 crore more for MGNREGA
Meanwhile, the Centre told SC on Thursday that it is likely to allocate Rs 15,000 crore more under the MGNREGA scheme this year to help 10 drought-affected states.
Aparajita Sarangi, joint secretary, MGNREGA, told a bench that she requested the agricultural ministry for the additional amount a day before. “I have given the projection, especially in wake of the drought,” she said. The Centre assured the court it will release Rs 8,000 crore upaid wages within a week. The top court is hearing a PIL filed by an NGO, seeking judicial direction to implement the National Food Security Act in states reeling under drought. It complained against non-payment of dues under MNREGA.
(With inputs from PTI)