NEW DELHI -- Are you waiting for the people to die, the Supreme Court told the government on Thursday, pulling it up for failing to make the states constitute advisory committees on disaster management preparedness.
"What are you waiting for? Why have you not asked the states to constitute advisory committee? Are you waiting for another disaster to happen or are you waiting for people to die in disaster," a bench of Justices M B Lokur and Deepak Gupta reacted when the counsel for National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) said it has no idea whether the states have constituted these committees or not.
Under Section 17 of the Disaster Management Act (DMA), "a state authority may, as and when it considers necessary, constitute an advisory committee, consisting of experts in the field of disaster management and having practical experience of disaster management to make recommendations on different aspects of disaster management".
The counsel said the states have not replied to a letter they have written and has no idea whether state advisory committees have been constituted or not.
The apex court also pulled up Andhra Pradesh and Telangana for not preparing state disaster management plan, saying why do they not take the law enacted by Parliament "seriously".
"Why don't you throw this law enacted by Parliament into the dustbin and say you do not need this. Your state is prone to cyclone like disasters but still you don't formulate a state disaster management plan. It's total lack of concern," the bench told the counsels appearing for Andhra Pradesh and Telangana.
Petitioner advocate Gaurav Bansal who has sought implementation of provisions of the DMA, said Cyclone Varda had hit the coastal areas of Andhra Pradesh recently and it needed the plan as the state was prone to disasters.
The bench then directed the matter to be listed tomorrow and asked the counsel for the Centre to explain the status of guidelines for minimum standards of relief, constitution of state advisory committees and state disaster management plans.
The apex court had earlier directed the chief secretaries of states to frame and comply with guidelines under the DMA on the issue of minimum standard of relief to affected persons.
The direction had come after it was informed that NDMA has written a letter to all the states asking them to frame the guidelines.
Referring to provisions of the Act, Bansal in his plea had said that they cast a duty on the Centre to draw a national plan for disaster management and provide minimum standards of relief to those affected by the disaster.
The apex court had earlier issued notices to Uttarakhand and six other states Tamil Nadu, Odisha, Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra, West Bengal and Gujarat on the PIL that had alleged that they failed in implementing Disaster Management Act in order to handle natural catastrophe.
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