A PIL under Article 32 was filed by the NGO, Swaraj Abhiyan praying for directions for declaration of drought and relief in affected areas. The apex court came out with a 3 part judgment earlier this month – the first one dealt with the issue of drought and the latter judgments took up the poor implementation of the National Food Security Act, 200513 (NFSA) and the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act, 2005 (NREGA). These directions largely signify the failure of the governance in tackling drought and suggest actions to be taken hence, we need to be thankful to the petitioners and apex court for this. We also hope the apex court continues to monitor the implementation of the directions.
Odisha has many rivers, vast forest cover and it receives above average rainfall annually. But, greed for minerals beneath the land and destruction wreaked by industries hungry to exploit the resources of the state have slowly choked the natural environment of the state. Most farm holdings are small or marginal dependent on the rains for irrigation. The deficit rains in 2015-16 pushed the state over the edge. The state is facing extensive crop loss and severe water shortage. Even after exploiting its resources to the hilt, the people of the state have not been provided with piped water supply. In many ways, the drought in Odisha is man made.
On Oct 28, 2015, the Andhra Pradesh government declared 196 mandals in seven districts, as drought-affected during the Kharif season 2015. The districts were Srikakulam (10 mandals), Prakasam (21), Nellore (14), Chittoor (39), Kadapa (33), Anantapur (39) and Kurnool (40). Consequent to the declaration of drought, the government directed the concerned district Collectors to notify the specific drought-hit areas in the District Gazette to enable farmers to avail credit facilities. On Nov 22, 2015, the Govt. added 163 mandals to the list of drought hit bringing the number up to 359 mandals. This included mandals in Guntur, Krishna, Vizianagaram. Drought was declared in 10 out of 13 districts. Crop loan and relief measures were to be taken up in these mandals as per guidelines. The state demanded central assistance of Rs 2,000 crore.