Citizens' Issues
SC irked over governments' lack of seriousness over drought
New Delhi : The Supreme Court on Thursday took strong exception to lack of seriousness shown by the central and drought-affected state governments despite the matter being heard for several days at stretch.
 
A bench of Justice Madan B. Lokur and Justice N.V.Ramana pulled Additional Solicitor General Pinki Anand for being more engaged in a medical college row when a serious issue like drought is being examined by the apex court in a PIL filed by NGO Swaraj Abhiyan.
 
Displeased over the apparent lack of seriousness being shown by the government counsel, Justice Lokur summoned Anand who was busy in the hearing of the medical colleges row and asked as to how many additional solicitor generals were there and if the central government could not spare one for this hearing.
 
"Do you think we are two useless people sitting here to pass time, staring at the clock?" Justice Ramana asked, adding: "Is drought not a serious enough an issue for the centre."
 
As Anand entered the court room and started addressing the bench, the court told her that "you can't argue for 15-20 minutes and leave. Better you don't argue now and let the states argue.
 
At a latter point, the court expressed displeasure at the state panel counsel of Gujarat and Haryana of being totally unprepared as to the measures being taken to ameliorate the plight of the drought-affected people in the states.
 
As a junior counsel representing Haryana could not give a satisfactory answer to the court's query relating to the figures on rainfall data in different part of the state and had to repeatedly rely on the officer for feedback, the bench observed: "If your officer wants to argue or write judgment, let him do. We will sit back." 
 
"What is going on. This is the kind of seriousness we are showing. People are losing their lives on account of drought. We are not about some picnic in some part of Haryana." 
 
As counsel apologised, the bench said: "People will have to be sorry. It is they who going to suffer."
 
The court also took exception to differing figures on the rainfall data given by the Haryana and central governments.
 
"Either what Union of India is telling is false or what you (Haryana) are telling us is false. Neither of you are misleading (the court), there is something wrong with our arithmetic," the court observed mockingly.
 
At one stage when Anand sought to come to rescue of the Haryana counsel by referring to statistics in the central government's affidavit, the bench said: "If Union of India wants to speak for all the states then let it do. But it can't be that states don't give any information." 
 
Similarly on the irrigation by the water from Sardar Sarovar Dam in Gujarat, counsel Prashant Bhushan appearing for Swaraj Abhiyan pointed out the huge gap between the figures on the website of the dam on the potential of irrigation and actual irrigation.
 
When counsel for Gujarat told the court that figures on the dam's website were from 2007-2008 and the latest actual figures were different, Justice Lokur observed: "You can't say that my official file says one thing and my official website says something else."
 
Faced with conflicting figures, the court asked Anand if "supposing you are given figures which are inaccurate or incorrect, do you accept it as it is or crosscheck it" and she reponded that they cross-check rainfall figurers with Indian Meteorological Department.
 
Gujarat admitted to the delay in undertaking the assessment of the drought situation for 2015, attributing it to the local bodies elections.
 
In the course of the hearing, the court questioned Bihar, Gujarat and Haryana why they hadn't declared drought despite insufficient rainfall in the states in 2015.
 
The three states have refused to declare drought despite deficient rainfall contending that their agriculture was irrigation-based, supported by water drawn by the tube wells and canal network and despite deficient rainfall, the crop yield had not suffered and was in the range of 95 to 103 percent.
 
The hearing will continue on Tuesday.
 
Disclaimer: Information, facts or opinions expressed in this news article are presented as sourced from IANS and do not reflect views of Moneylife and hence Moneylife is not responsible or liable for the same. As a source and news provider, IANS is responsible for accuracy, completeness, suitability and validity of any information in this article.

 

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Nifty, Sensex headed lower – Thursday closing report
Nifty will head higher only if it closes above 7,596
 
We had mentioned in Wednesday’s closing report that Nifty, Sensex is still in a downtrend and the trend will reverse if Nifty manages to close above 7,700. Today the index made a lower high and a lower low and closed in the red. The trends of the major indices in Wednesday’s trading are given in the table below:
 
 
On Thursday, both the key indices opened on a firm note, on the back of a rebound in global crude oil prices and Wednesday's positive close to the US markets. However, the initial gains were ceded as selling and unwinding of long positions ahead of the fourth quarter (Q4) results season dented sentiments. The Q4 results season is scheduled to start from April 8. Infosys is expected to be the first blue chip to come out with its results on April 15.
 
On the other hand, positive cues from the FOMC (Federal Open Market Committee) minutes released late on Wednesday evening and a rebound in global crude oil prices helped pare some of the losses. The FOMC minutes disclosed that the US Federal Reserve has taken a cautious stand on future rate hikes.
 
The top gainers and top losers of the major indices are given in the table below:
 
 
The closing values of major Asian indices are given in the table below:
 

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Nashik's Ramkund goes waterless in 130 years, pilgrims worst hit
Nashik (Maharashtra) : Ramkund, the sacred bathing spot on the Godavari river here where pilgrims take a dip and perform various rituals, has gone dry for the first time in 130 years due to acute water shortage, a top official said on Thursday.
 
Thousands of pilgrims expected to converge here for a holy dip on Gudi Padwa on April 8 -- the first day of Chaitra month marking the beginning of the new year according to the lunisolar Hindu calendar -- would therefore be unable to do so.
 
"Tomorrow, (Friday) on the occasion of the auspicious Gudi Padwa, thousands of pilgrims expected to turn up at Ramkund will not be able to take the holy dip, at least till July-end," Nashik Municipal Corporation's Deputy Mayor Gurmeet Bagga told IANS.
 
The cemented Ramkund has now become a playground for children who play cricket and football there, Bagga said.
 
The civic body seems to have run out of options available to replenish the water in the holy reservoir in the river bed. 
 
It is now toying with the idea of digging borewells on the river banks in a bid to replenish the Ramkund -- which is also the main pilgrimage centre during the Kumbh Mela held here. However, the project depends on several factors, including religious sentiments and cost.
 
Besides, there is no guarantee that borewells will be a solution to the problem since the groundwater table in the district has plummeted, Bagga said.
 
The Purohit Sangh has now appealed to the Nashik Municipal Corporation authorities to arrange water to enable the priests and the faithfuls to perform the basic religious rituals on Friday.
 
The priests have suggested alternative water arrangements be made from some nearby reservoir to fill the Ramkund enough to facilitate the holy dips, but authorities are yet to respond.
 
At present, Bagga said, the corporation was supplying around 100 litres per head per day (LPHPD) to Nashik residents as against the national norm of 130 LPHPD, and soon this will dip to around 80 LPHPD due to acute water scarcity.
 
"Our target is to conserve water till the third week of July when heavy rains start and continue till mid-August to replenish the water bodies," the deputy mayor said.
 
Meanwhile, water scarcity has severely hit trade as well as summer tourism in the district.
 
Disclaimer: Information, facts or opinions expressed in this news article are presented as sourced from IANS and do not reflect views of Moneylife and hence Moneylife is not responsible or liable for the same. As a source and news provider, IANS is responsible for accuracy, completeness, suitability and validity of any information in this article.

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