The homeless and migrant workers were the hardest hit by the aftermath of the coronavirus crisis, with the latter forced to trek back home after public transport was suspended.(Yogendra Kumar/HT photo)
The homeless and migrant workers were the hardest hit by the aftermath of the coronavirus crisis, with the latter forced to trek back home after public transport was suspended.(Yogendra Kumar/HT photo)

Covid-19 lockdown: Social, religious groups join hands with govt to provide food to needy

On the third day of the three-week lockdown, provisions of food appeared to have improved after civil right activists expressed concern that the poor and daily-wage earners were at the risk of going hungry if the state fails to come to their aid.
By HT Correspondent | Hindustan Times, New Delhi
UPDATED ON MAR 28, 2020 12:17 PM IST

Social and religious organisations have started feeding the needy and migrant workers trekking back home in the absence of public transport , and state governments opened community kitchens at shelter homes, enlisting the staff of the police to hand out packages of food in response to the coronavirus crisis and the distress it has sparked.

On the third day of the three-week lockdown, provisions of food appeared to have improved after civil right activists expressed concern that the poor and daily-wage earners were at the risk of going hungry if the state fails to come to their aid.

In most states, community kitchens have become operational and ground staff including the police deployed to distribute packets of food to the needy.

“Our student police cadets and many organisations are helping us in this,” said Kerala’s inspector general of police, P Vijayan. Kerala was among the first states to announce community kitchens and several organisations including the police is engaged in distributing food.

In Punjab, the gurudwaras have taken the lead in providing food to the poor and Punjab police personnel are engaged in distributing cooked meals to the poor. “In the past two days, policemen have distributed 1.5 lakh food packets,” said a Punjab police statement, adding that its personnel were also distributing milk and packets of dry rations.

Special chief secretary, revenue and rehabilitation, KBS Sidhu said the government had released Rs 20 crore to provide food and converted all slums in the state into quarantine camps. “This will enable us to provide free food and medicines to them from the State Disaster Relief Fund (SDRF),” he said.

The homeless and migrant workers were the hardest hit by the aftermath of the coronavirus crisis, with the latter forced to trek back home after public transport was suspended. According to 2011 Census, India had 1.7 million homeless, with the most number in Delhi, followed by Chennai and Mumbai. The census report also said that 54 million or nearly 5% people living in India migrated had from their place of birth for work.

The Madhya Pradesh government has ordered that funds provide under Panch Parmeshwar scheme used to provide food and accommodation to the needy. “Food packets will be distributed at Rain baseras (night shelter homes) among the poor and helpless,” CM Shivraj Singh Chouhan said.

The Bihar government on Thursday sanctioned Rs 100 crore from the CM’s Relief Fund to provide food and shelter for daily wage earners, including those from outside the state, who have been stranded in the state capital and other Bihar cities in the wake of countrywide lockdown.

In Kolkata, community kitchens are providing food to street dwellers and poor people living in the 27 night shelters run by the Kolkata Municipal Corporation. Women who run community kitchens under the Integrated Child Development Scheme in the districts are sending rice and pulses to the homes of children who are not being able to come to anganwadi centres to be fed meals.

Odisha chief minister Naveen Patnaik has sanctioned a package of Rs 2,200 crore for the poor, which include three months advance subsidised rations to all the 9.4 million beneficiaries. The food supply department is delivering public distribution system foodgrains at the doorstep of each beneficiary across the state. In Rourkela and Berhampur, non-government organisations (NGOs) are cooking and distributing food to the needy.

The Chhattisgarh government is providing food packets to the homeless and the poor in all 28 districts with the help of the police. A few Gurudwaras are also serving food to the poor in the state capital, Raipur. Similar reports were received from Maharashtra.

In the north-eastern states, the police in Guwahati, Assam, distributed food to the poor in with the help of a local gurudwara and an NGO. In other districts, the police distributed food to the needy and homeless. Members of the Sikh community belonging to the Gurudwara Sri Guru Singh Sabha also distributed cooked food in Shillong, Meghalaya.

The Tripura government started providing free food twice a day through community kitchens in urban areas starting on Thursday.

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