“People are dying. We are not dealing with some Picnic.” – SC
The Swaraj Abhiyan case in Supreme Court has now become a damning indictment of government’s preparedness to the severe drought which has engulfed around 40% landmass of the country.
The apex court took strong exception to buck being passed between the Centre and States. Justice Madan Lokur rebuked the centre and commented, “You have made a Chicken & Egg situation out of MNREGA. You don’t release money citing states not meeting target. States say that they are not able to meet man-days targets citing inadequate funds.”
“People are dying!”, said the Court as it expressed shock at the lax attitude of government’s response. Taking strong objection to the absence of Additional Solicitor General of government, the bench censured the centre’s representative asking, “Where is the ASG? Is something like drought not important? Are we useless? What are we supposed to do? Sit idle and look at the clock?” The ASG Pinky Anand had to then join the proceedings.
As the Court heard Bihar, Haryana and Gujarat present their cases, the bench comprising Justice V Ramanna slammed Haryana and Gujarat again for half-baked reports and inability to even submit a signed affidavit. Gujarat admitted a delay in assessment of drought citing lack of manpower as the reason. The Court retorted, “Lack of manpower? We’ve 1.25 billion people in this country!”
Looking at sketchy documents filed by the Haryana government which could not even present the basic rainfall data, the Court reprimanded saying, “This is the kind of seriousness! Its about people dying of drought. We’re not dealing with some picnic.”
Arguing for Swaraj Abhiyan, senior lawyer Prashant Bhushan objected to the figures presented by Gujarat government as Bogus. “I can say for sure that the irrigation figures of Sardar Sarovar Project cited here by the government are bogus,” he said before proving his claim in two minutes.
Reacted strongly, the Supreme Court mentioned that if Swaraj Abhiyan could present the case so well even after having limited access to government information, why couldn’t the government itself which had all the information.
The case demanding relief in drought hit areas was filed in Supreme Court after Yogendra Yadav led a team to a 3000 km Samvedna Yatra of drought affected regions of the country. The Swaraj Abhiyan case has been a big embarrassment for centre and various state governments who have not responded adequately to the severe ongoing crisis which is claiming lives by the thousands. The Court has fixed 12th April, Tuesday, as the next date for hearing on the petition.
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