The Supreme Court on Wednesday announced a series of drought-relief measures the Centre should undertake. Among them, it directed the government to set up a special force to tackle the drought crisis in the country. The team will be formed under the Disaster Management Act, ANI reported.

The court was hearing a public interest litigation filed by non-profit group Swaraj Abhiyan, led by former Aam Aadmi Party leader Yogendra Yadav. The petition sought several policy-level interventions from the court, including new drought committees, directions to the Centre for additional food supplies, a policy on how to declare a state drought-stricken and rules on compensation, among others.

The court said various factors need to be taken into account when a state declares a drought, including farmers’ suicides, stress and migration. It also said the Centre should define a time limit for the declaration of drought. The bench suggested the Centre create a disaster mitigation fund and also revise the drought management manual to provide relief to farmers, PTI reported.

The bench also directed the Union Agriculture Secretary to convene a meeting with the chief secretaries of Bihar, Gujarat and Haryana to assess the drought crises in their states within a week. Gujarat has declared a drought, but Bihar and Haryana have not done so yet.