Back-to-back monsoon failure in 2014 and 2015 for the fourth time in more than 100 years has engulfed around 33 crores Indian spread across 11 states and Union Territories

Rains may break 2-yr El Nino jinx
of India in perhaps one of its strongest indictments of both the Central and State government mainly of Bihar, and has pointed out several lacunae in the manner in which both state and Centre handle and drinking water crisis of 2016.

The crisis which has been due to back-to-back failure in 2014 and 2015 for the fourth time in more than 100 years has engulfed around 33 crores Indian spread across 11 states and Union Territories.

Following is the check-list of five major things which both the Centre and State governments should have done to mitigate the suffering, but failed to do as pointed out by the apex court.

1) The Centre failed to create National Disaster Response Force with specialist cadre to handle disasters like drought which is more of a management problem than anything else even more than 10 years after the Disaster Management Act was passed by the Parliament.

2) The Centre also failed to create a National Disaster Mitigation Act also as mandated by the Act. The National Disaster Plan as envisaged in the 2005 Act has also not yet taken shape.

3) The Drought Management Manual, which is a must for all those dealing with this disaster and lays down specific roles and activities for both Centre and state has not been updated since 2009 despite many new developments taking place. The Court directed that the manual be updated by December 2016. The top court also said that while updating the manual, care should be taken so that equal weightage is given to rainfall failure and crop sowing shortage as vital parameters to judge whether an area has suffered drought or not.

4) The manual as per the SC should clearly lay down that all states should mandatorily declare drought latest by October that is a month after the withdrawal of southwest monsoon and employ modern methods to judge whether any region has received adequate rainfall or not. IMD in its latest order has in fact removed the word drought from its nomenclature and instead classifies it as ‘deficient rainfall’. If cumulative rainfall over a certain area is less than 10 per cent of normal it is classified as drought.

5) The Court also pointed to lack of prior-preparation in case of drought and said that both the updated drought manual and the National Plan should lay down what the cCentre and states plan to do in future to prevent calamities like drought.

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