New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Wednesday directed the Centre to set up a Disaster Management Fund and a special force under the Disaster Management Act to handle drought crisis in the country.
Acting on a petition filed by Swaraj Abhiyan led by Prashant Bhushan and Yogendra Yadav, the apex court also directed the Centre to prepare a disaster management plan to tackle the crisis.
On the issue of the drought manual – which lays down criteria for declaration of drought in a particular part of the country – the court, while accepting it as a ‘good’ manual, said that it needs to be firmed up so as to ensure that state governments cannot refuse to declare drought in an arbitrary manner.
The SC said that farmers suicide, stress and migration factors should be taken into account while declaring drought in the state and directed the Centre to revise the drought manual to make the declaration of drought less prohibitory and ensure that it is based on scientific data.
On the issue of three states – Bihar, Gujarat and Haryana – that have refused to declare drought in areas that are seriously affected , the court asked the chief secretaries of these states to hold a meeting with the Centre within a week and take corrective action.