SC pulls up top bureaucrats from 10 states, questions why compensation was not given to drought-hit farmers

Last year, more than 330 million people were hit by water shortages across 13 of the country's 29 states

The Supreme Court has summoned top bureaucrats from 10 states to explain why they have not provided food grains, loan waivers and compensation for crop losses to millions of people hit by a drought last year.

More than 330 million people – almost a quarter of India’s population – were hit by water shortages across 13 of the country’s 29 states, including Gujarat, Haryana, Maharashtra, Bihar, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh and Andhra Pradesh.

But even though the country’s top court ordered 10 states to put in place measures to support drought-stricken communities nearly a year ago, little has been done, activists said. The chief secretaries, the most senior civil servants in the states, have been ordered to appear before the Supreme Court on April 26

“This is important because the Supreme Court generally does not summon top government officials,” said Avik Saha, vice president of Swaraj Abhiyan, a charity which filed a petition in the court, accusing the 10 states of contempt of the court order.

“This is significant because peoples’ lives are at risk. They have neither food nor money for their survival.”

Last year’s drought caused crop failures, water shortages and excessive debt, prompting hundreds of families across the country to flee villages in search of food, water and jobs.

The Supreme Court in May ordered the states to provide stricken villagers with relief including 5 kg of subsidised food grains monthly, financial compensation for crop losses and loan repayment waivers for debt-hit farmers.