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Swaraj Abhiyan has exposed Modi government on drought issue
Double standards of Modi-led BJP government at the centre have been exposed during the hearing of PIL filed by "Swaraj Abhiyan" on the issue of drought. It is very much evident by the submission of the Central government in the Supreme Court that this government doesn't care about the distress of farmers and downtrodden people of society hit by natural calamity of drought.

Swaraj Abhiyan had filed a PIL in the Supreme Court regarding the immediate relief to drought- hit population of the country. Bench of Judges MB Lokur and NV Ramana reserved the judgment after concluding the hearing which lasted for almost for 4 months and 15 hearings had were held on the important issue of drought. Yogendra Yadav, the leader of Swarah Abhiyan was present during most of the hearings and presented substantial submissions himself as he was touring the country's drought affected areas under the aegis of "Jai Kisan Andolan".

Prashant Bhushan, an eminent lawyer and social activist appearing for petitioners (Swaraj Abhiyan) proved in the court that the data of 33 crore people affected by drought as provided by Central government is wrong. He remarked that by accepting the drought notifications of 11 states there are 43 crore people living in drought hit areas. He also added that if we go by the government's own drought assessment report then many more villages of Bihar, Gujarat and Haryana should be declared drought affected and that will further add up to the tally of drought affected persons in the country to the tune of almost 54 crore.

PS Narsimha, additional solicitor general appearing for the government accepted following points during the hearing in the Supreme Court:

1.)    National Disaster policy under Disaster Management Act didn't exist

2.)    Disaster Mitigation fund proposed under the Act was not created till now

3.)    NDRF did not have expertise to deal with drought

4.)    MNREGA suffered heavily because of financial crunch

Swaraj Abhiyan also demanded additional daal and oil in ration or milk/egg in mid-day meal scheme which was out rightly rejected by the government claiming that it is not the governments' responsibility to do so and the government is not under any legal compulsion to complete the demand of petitioners. Narsimha also added that the government had done enough whatever it could have done and doing more is beyond the capacity of government.

It is amazing that the government is claiming in the media that it is trying to improve the living standards of people of the country whereas in the apex court, the government is submitting that it is beyond its means to provide help to drought affected people more than what it has already done.

Important questions arise on the submission of the government in court which can be discussed as below:

1.)     If there is no National disaster policy under Disaster Management Act, then whose responsibility is it to make such a policy? Why the government has not taken any action on the subject of such an important issue? People of this country are more important than industrial planning. Government had all the time to make plans for industries but they don't have time to make a policy for such a disaster which affects common people of the country especially farmers.

2.)    Why Disaster Mitigation fund had not been created? Who is responsible for this? What action is the government taking to do so in the future?

3.)    If NDRF doesn't has the expertise to deal with drought then there is no dearth of talent in the country, it was the government's job to find out suitable people who knew how to deal with such a disaster. Why no such action was taken by the government?

4.)    Why MNREGA is suffering from financial crunch, it is government's duty to release funds.

Swaraj Abhiyan also demanded for upgrading the compensation to farmers on crop loss and restructuring of farming loans in line of corporate loans. Government's lawyer claimed that bank will restructure the loans if the farmers apply for the same, but failed to provide any supporting documents from government or RBI.

Prashant Bhushan also requested to court to appoint commissioners to monitor the implementation of court orders. He was wary of that the government will not implement the orders given by the court, unless the court monitors the implementation of its order.

We have to understand that Prime Minister Modi recently launched a new campaign to change the fortune of the rural population with the slogan of `Gram Uday to Bharat Uday' but his government in the Supreme Court is saying that it didn't have the means to support the drought affected people beyond what it has already done. I request the Central government as well as the state government that in time of disaster, try to help people in distress. They are mainly farmers of the country and no country can survive without the well being of its farmers. Farmers of this country are most selfless people who are happy with their end requirement, even after putting in so much of hard work in the fields to grow the produce for the nation to survive.

Though it is true that the government is doing some good work in drought hit regions like using railway network to provide water to drought affected Maharashtra. People like Nana Patekar and Yogendra Yadav are the real heroes for the masses.

Editorial NOTE: This article is categorized under Opinion Section. The views expressed in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of merinews.com. In case you have a opposing view, please click here to share the same in the comments section.
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