At least 33 crore people in the country have been affected by the drought this year. A government report submitted in the Supreme Court stated that 2.55 lakh villages in 254 districts are struggling because of a paucity of water, reported The Times of India. As many as 56 districts in 10 states are officially affected by acute water crisis, an apex court bench headed by Justice MB Lokur was informed on Monday.
However, the data does not include Bihar and Haryana, which means the actual figure might be much higher. The two states have not submitted their respective status reports yet. The court pulled up Gujarat for filing a note instead of an affidavit on the drought situation in the state. "Just because you're Gujarat, doesn't mean you can do whatever you like," the Supreme Court bench said.
The court said it's the Centre's responsibility to warn states about probable drought-like situations well in advance, and the government has failed to do so, reported NDTV. "If you are told that 96% is crop sown in a particular area of the state, but you receive information of scanty rainfall, don't just tell them that everything is right, and think there is possibility of Centre telling states about a possible drought," the court said.
The bench observed that the central government should use modern technology to predict weather patterns, instead of relying on archaic methods such as a cursory survey of farms. The court also asked the government at the Centre to provide detailed information on how and to what extent it has implemented the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act in drought-hit regions.