New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Monday directed the Centre and drought-hit states to ensure that those affected were provided free foodgrain as per the Food Security Act and one member of the family given a minimum 150 days of employment under the MGNREG Act.
A bench of Justices Madan B Lokur and R K Agrawal asked the Union agriculture secretary to convene a meeting with officials of 12 drought-affected states–Uttar Pradesh, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Maharashtra, Gujarat, Odisha, Jharkhand, Bihar, Haryana and Chattisgarh to ensure implementation of social welfare legislations and the Centre’s drought manual.
The court was hearing a PIL filed by NGO Swaraj Abhiyan which alleged that the state governments had been highly negligent in implementing the Food Security Act, causing enormous hardship to the drought-affected people.
“The state governments have failed to redress the misery of the vast population, they have even failed to properly implement the existing schemes that could have provided support during this period of distress. Some states have not implemented the National Food Security Act, resulting in the failure to provide adequate food grains through the Public Distribution System at this hour of crisis,” said advocate Prashant Bhushan, appearing for the petitioner.
Referring to a survey conducted by it in Bundelkhand region in UP, the petitioner said 39% families had not consumed pulses even once in the last 30 days, 60% had not consumed any milk and 14% admitted going to bed hungry at least once during this period.
“The state governments have abdicated their constitutional obligation under Article 21 of the Constitution which makes it mandatory for them to ensure the right to life of the citizens which includes the right to live with dignity with at least two square meals a day,” he contended.