Jharkhand starts 356 Khichdi centres for needy, offers two-month’s ration in advance
Jharkhand CM has announced several measures including affordable meals and advance rations for the poor in the state in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic outbreak.Updated: Mar 25, 2020 19:58 IST
Jharkhand government has initiated several welfare measures, including low-price ‘Khichdi’ distribution centres and two months’ advance ration to PDS beneficiaries, in a bid to ease the economic burden on the poor residents of the state during the 21-day long nation-wide lockdown to check the spread of highly infectious Covid-19.
A total of 356 ‘Khichdi’(an easy to cook nutritious dish) distribution centres have started functioning from Wednesday across the state. However, beneficiaries are not allowed to have the food sitting at the centres due to the need to maintain social distancing. Besides, the centres would not offer plates for food but require the beneficiaries to bring their own plates from homes, officials said.
Chief minister Hemant Soren on Monday had directed to convert all Mukhiya Mantri Daal-Bhaat Kendras, where rice, pulse and a vegetable was being served at Rs 5, into Khichdi centres for the needy in the state during this period of crisis.
However, the food would not be for free. Beneficiaries have to pay Rs 5 for a plate of Khichdi. “If it is done free, people might misuse the food. This is why a minimal price is being taken from the beneficiaries,” said the principal secretary of food, public distribution and consumer affairs department, Arun Kumar Singh.
In Ranchi city area, 11 Khichdi centres started functioning from Wednesday, while 18 centres started functioning in the in rural areas.
“Footfalls at these centres in village areas have dropped, while it is quite good in city areas due to the presence of hospitals,” said Meena, in-charge district supply officer (DSO), Ranchi.
Ravindra Kumar, a resident of Chhatarpur in Garhwa, said he is a migrant labourer and recently returned from Uttar Pradesh, where he was working as a contract labourer.
“Khichdi centre has come as a great relief in this crisis, as there is a crisis of food item at home. I will request such centres should also be operative at night,” he said.
Sub-divisional officer (SDO), Chhatarpur, Narendra Gupta said, “We received a huge response on the first day. There is a good population of migrant labourer here. A total of 16 centres have been started, which would be taken to 46 very soon,” he said.
The state government has also decided to offer two months’ ration to the beneficiaries enrolled under the National Food Security Act (NFSA). Singh said, “We are allotting ration of two months-April and May- to the beneficiaries so that they do not suffer during the lockdown.”
Around 2.64 crore people from 57 lakh households are covered under NFSA in Jharkhand. However, there are many who are still deprived of ration cards. More than 6.97 lakh applications for ration cards are pending with the department. Since Centre has fixed number of beneficiaries under NFSA, these people might suffer during the lockdown.
Keeping this in mind, the department has given Rs 30 lakh to each district and directed the district authorities to provide 10kg of rice to needy families, if they are lacking ration cards.
Sanjay Kumar, director food, public distribution and consumers affairs, said, “Additional Rs 5 lakh was given to each district on Tuesday to deal with any kind of hunger situation in the district.”
Meanwhile, the education department is giving one month’s mid-may meal ration to students under a take-home ration scheme so that no student suffers due to closure of the schools.
MGNREGA wage rises by Rs 23, the state seeks unemployment allowance during the lockdown
The Centre has increased minimum wage for MGNREGA workers in Jharkhand from Rs 171 to Rs 194, even as Jharkhand government has sought unemployment allowance from the centre for MGNREGA workers during the lockdown period, officials said.
Jharkhand MGNREGA commissioner Sidhartha Tripathi said this was for the first time when the minimum wage for MGNREGA increased by Rs 23. “However, we had demanded it to be made at par with state’s minimum wage, which is Rs 274,” Tripathi said. He said the enhanced remuneration will come into effect from April 1.
He further said the state has written to the Centre for unemployment allowance for the workers, who would not be able to work despite allotment due to the lockdown.
“We have engaged 54,000 worksite supervisor for sensitization regarding the threat of Covid-19 in rural areas. We have taken all precautions for the labourers who are working in sites,” he said.