Why relief distribution system needs a rejig

Why relief distribution system needs a rejig

Gurgaon: “One cannot eat with his neighbour going to bed empty stomach. Hence we share whatever little food we are left with,” says Krishna Sarkar, a migrant worker from West Bengal who stays in a slum near Medanta hospital. The food stock is depleting fast and Sarkar isn’t sure how long can they survive like this.
When asked about the government’s aid, he says, “We had called the helpline number many a time and every time they told us that we could go and get khichdi. But, both the centres are far and it takes almost two hours to go and come back.” Their troubles don’t end there, on their way to the relief centres, cops question them.
Sarkar is not alone. As the lockdown enters its tenth day, thousands of migrant workers in the city are still battling hunger due to an inefficient food distribution process. Labour unions and NGOs are now asking the government to make free ration available to all migrant workers, even those without a ration card.
“The state government must double the public distribution system ration for three months and provide it free in advance through doorstep delivery, along with cooking oil, pulses, salt and soap to all, irrespective of whether they have a ration card or not. Many homeless and circular migrants in cities have no ration cards,” said Rahul Roy from Gurgaon Nagrik Ekta Manch.
Roy claimed that Rajasthan has already taken the step for supply of dry rations for 10 days and with no documents. And the Chhattisgarh government has also ordered the distribution of food packets to destitute families, identified by the district administration with support from charitable groups and NGOs.
Nikhil Dey, a human rights activist, echoed Roy’s opinions. “The central government has some 80 million tonnes of grains in stock and the monthly requirement is of four million tonnes. Hence, there is no shortage. Apart from food, the government must also provide cash to those in need.”
Officials also agreed that the relief distribution system needs urgent attention. “While we are putting in a lot of effort, the system needs to be streamlined,” said an HSVP official.

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