Thursday, May 29, 2003
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By Our Special Correspondent
Taking into account the serious situation in the drought-hit State, arising out of the absence of grain stocks in the FCI godowns and the non-availability of railway rakes to fetch fresh stocks from outside, Justice Rajendra Balia and Justice O.P. Vishnoi of the High Court in Jodhpur today asked the Centre to provide an explanation at the earliest.
The matters of severe drought and the non-availability of grains for relief works were taken up suo motu by the Chief Justice of the Rajasthan High Court, Justice Anil Deo Singh, in April in the wake of media reports. Thereafter the Court served notices to the Centre and the State Governments.
It also asked the Akal Sangarsh Samiti, a group of activists keeping a watch on the drought situation, to present to it the position of relief at the ground level.
Today's court directive to the Centre came in the wake of the Akal Sangarsh Samiti's request for an interim order, directing the FCI to make available grains immediately for supply to the drought-affected.
The judges said that despite the summer holidays starting from tomorrow, the hearing on the matter would continue before the vacation judge.
The Akal Sangarsh Samiti brought it to the notice of the Court that the Chief Minister of Rajasthan, Ashok Gehlot had written to the Prime Minister on May 12 and then on May 20 referring to the absence of food stocks with FCI godowns in the tribal districts and the non-availability of rail wagons for transport of grains.
The Samiti pointed out that Mr. Gehlot had also asked the Railway Minister and the Food Minister to help improve the grain situation.
The Akal Sangarsh Samiti also submitted in the court that even when rail wagons and trucks were not available for carrying grains for the drought-hit people, the railway wagons were passing through Rajasthan carrying grains for export from the Kandla port in Gujarat.
Counsel for the Government of India, N.M. Lodha sought time to present the details of the grain availability and stocks.
He said that by May 26 the State had lifted 8.1 lakh tonnes of the 8.9 lakh tonnes wheat allocated to it by the Centre.
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