Hunger hotspots not targeted, ration tokens immediate need: Gurugram civil society group
A report, ‘Taking Stock: Assessing Distribution and Distress in Gurugram during the COVID-19 Lockdown’, said that hunger had not abated despite the collaborative efforts of multiple civil society organisations since the government’s response was slow.Updated: Apr 28, 2020 08:51 IST
The Gurgaon Nagrik Ekta Manch (GNEM), a civil society group involved in food distribution across the city, has released a report stating that the administration has not addressed the hunger crisis in the district adequately and relief measures were yet to reach most people, especially in industrial pockets.
The report, ‘Taking Stock: Assessing Distribution and Distress in Gurugram during the COVID-19 Lockdown’, released on Sunday, stated that while coronavirus disease (Covid-19) hotspots had been meticulously mapped by the administration, hunger hotspots were not specifically and systematically targeted by the administration for food relief. “The administration’s focus on mapping and intervening in coronavirus hotspots through the establishment of containment zones and enhanced screening is duly announced and reported on a regular basis. However, hunger hotspots that emerged clearly in our data, especially in clusters around industrial pockets like Dundahera, Sarhaul, Manesar, Dharuhera, Khandsa, and Naharpur, do not find mention in any official announcement,” stated the report.
The report said that hunger had not abated despite the collaborative efforts of multiple civil society organisations since the government’s response was slow. Based on data analysis of the group’s operations, the report said that there was a substantial gap between demand and supply. The group had served close to 4 lakh cooked meals since the first week of April but had only managed to meet 74% of the demand. “Even with nearly 10,100 ration kits delivered until April 21, which provided food security for 40,400 people, the GNEM has only been able to cater to 68% of those in need,” stated the report.
It also mentioned that food-related distress had peaked in the second phase of the lockdown. The number of daily calls received by the group multiplied exponentially from eight calls a day to 60 in the second phase of the lockdown, the report stated. The extension created panic among people with no income, negligible savings, and rising debt, as per the group’s assessment. The report also said that while distress ration coupons had been announced, the process of coupon distribution remained “unclear and entirely opaque”. The report has recommended that ration coupon distribution be made public to increase transparency, cash relief of ₹1,000 be reopened for daily wagers, and a single helpline and grievance portal be put in place.
VS Kundu, additional chief secretary, said that the number of people requiring food was gradually expanding since many families who were able to sustain themselves in the first phase were running out of resources. “We are aware that hunger distress is escalating since the lockdown has been extended. The number of people requiring food is increasing since people who earlier had resources are gradually running out of resources and savings,” Kundu said. He added that the report prepared by the group had been shared with him and he had passed it to the officers in charge.
He also said that the administration was carrying out household surveys to assess the requirements of those in need following which people without ration cards would be provided with food tokens which would allow them to receive ration for three months, including April. “It has taken a couple of extra days for the survey but we are aiming to provide ration by this week,” Kundu said.