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SC seeks Centre’s reply on food security for drought-hit states

SC seeks Centre’s reply on food security for drought-hit states
The Supreme Court on Tuesday asked the Centre to file its reply on a plea, seeking all states to ensure food security for drought-affected rural population till the end of calamity or till six months. A Bench, headed by Justice MB Lokur, asked Solicitor General Ranjit Kumar to file the response till March 30, after he submitted that the prayers have been revised by the petitioner.

“You file your response to the revised prayers and matter be listed for further hearing on March 30,” the Bench, also comprising Justice NV Ramana, said.

The Solicitor General informed the Bench that some states have not filed their responses regarding the steps taken by them in drought-hit areas falling under their jurisdiction in compliance with the directions of of the court.

Petitioner NGO Swaraj Abhiyan, in its revised prayer, also sought direction to the Centre to abide by provisions of the MNREGA Act and use it for employment generation in drought-affected areas.

The plea also sought that “the Reserve Bank of India and the states to ensure that the scheduled banks as well as the non-scheduled banks restructure the crop loans and other outstanding loans of the drought-affected farmers...” 

On January 22, the Centre had informed the Apex Court that agriculture secretaries of 12 drought-hit states would be meeting in Delhi to discuss steps to be taken to provide relief to farmers and others affected. The court had asked the Centre to apprise it about the current status of welfare schemes such as MGNREGA, National Food Security and mid-day meal in the 12 drought-hit states across the country.

The PIL filed by the NGO has alleged that parts of 12 states of Uttar Pradesh, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Maharashtra, Gujarat, Odisha, Jharkhand, Bihar, Haryana and Chattisgarh were hit by drought and the authorities were not providing adequate relief.

The Centre had told the apex court that these states have been provided financial aid from State Disaster Relief Fund (SDRF) and the National Disaster Relief Fund (NDRF). The Centre had told the bench that funds to the tune of over Rs 1,500 crore, Rs 1,276 crore, Rs 2,032 crore, Rs 3,044 crores have been made available to Karnataka, Chattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh and Maharshtra, respectively.
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