Officials of 12 states to discuss drought, SC told

New Delhi, Jan 22 (IANS) The Centre on Friday told the Supreme Court that the agriculture secretaries of 12 drought-affected states will meet in Delhi on January 25 and 27 to take stock of the situation and the steps that were needed to provide relief to the affected people.

The twelve drought-hit states are Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Maharashtra, Gujarat, Bihar, Odisha, Jharkhand, and Haryana.

The apex court bench of Justice Madan B. Lokur and Justice R.K. Agrawal was told this by Solicitor General Ranjit Kumar in pursuance to its January 18, 2016, order, asking the union agriculture secretary to inform the “earliest date on which the meeting can be called to discuss the… issues and measures to alleviate the problems of people in the drought affected areas…”.

Being informed about the scheduled meeting of the agriculture secretaries and noting “the urgency and importance of the matter”, the court directed the next hearing of the matter on February 1.

The court hoped that the states will take positive and necessary steps particularly in view of its January 18 order.

Asking the solicitor general to inform it about the “steps that have been taken and the steps that are proposed to be taken in these states”, the court said: “We hope that the states will take positive and necessary steps particularly in view of our last order…”

The court in its January 18 order had sought information on the steps that had been taken both by the Centre and the affected states in providing relief to the farmers and drought-affected people, including availability of fodder, water, one kg of dal, one kg of edible oil, egg and milk, work under MGNREGA act and implementation of the National Food Security Act.

The court also sought to know the criteria for declaring an area drought-hit and the rainfall data.

NGO Swaraj Abhiyan had moved the apex court for effective implementation of welfare schemes in drought affected States.

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