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How many states have drought management cells, SC asks govt

How many states have drought management cells and why no district-level disaster management authority has been set up, the Supreme Court asked the Centre on Thursday.

A Bench, headed by Justice MB Lokur, directed the Centre to apprise it of these details after submissions were made that several states in the country have no drought management cells and district disaster management authorities till now. The Bench also pulled up the Centre for not providing full details about the drought manual and drought management guidelines.

It suggested that the Centre should, with the help of satellite data, analyse the expected rainfall in the monsoon season. It should again analyse the data during and after the season, so that effective steps to tackle drought-like situations can be taken on time.

The Bench is examining various aspects of relief given to drought-hit farmers during the hearing of a PIL, seeking urgent implementation of guidelines for areas hit by natural calamity.

Advocate Prashant Bhushan appearing for petitioner NGO Swaraj Abhiyan said an independent commissioner should be appointed to look after the implementation of the guidelines as it had been done by the Apex Court in the Right to Food matter. He said loans in drought-hit areas should be restructured and short-term loans converted to term loans and long-term loans to help the farmers in distress.

Bhusan concluded his arguments and the matter was posted for further hearing on April 6.
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