Food

COVID-19: Poor hit as ration shops run out of grains in Chitrakoot

Several ration shops in MP, UP haven’t had wheat for weeks, claim residents  

 
By Jigyasa Mishra
Last Updated: Tuesday 21 April 2020
Semiya Devi Prajapati, resident of Nayagaon, was told she would be given ration only when all ration card-holders get it. Credit: Jigyasa Mishra
Semiya Devi Prajapati, resident of Nayagaon, was told she would be given ration only when all ration card-holders get it. Credit: Jigyasa Mishra Semiya Devi Prajapati, resident of Nayagaon, was told she would be given ration only when all ration card-holders get it. Credit: Jigyasa Mishra

As the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak continues to surge in Madhya Pradesh, the poor and needy are at the receiving end. The state government announced free ration scheme for the vulnerable section of the society, yet access to three meals a day hasn’t been easy.

“I have been visiting ration shops for two weeks in a row to enquire about our ration. In a family of 10, eight of us have ration cards. But we haven’t got it for two weeks,” said Mukesh, an e-rickshaw driver.

Mukesh is a resident of Nayagaon village in MP’s Satna district and a father to eight kids. He bought his e-rickshaw on loan and has not been able to pay the instalments for two months now.

“I get calls every second day for the instalments. I have missed the instalment of March and April. How do I prove them that I barely have money to feed 10 stomachs?” he said.

He said he hadn’t earned anything since the lockdown was enforced. “I use the rickshaw to carry water from hand-pump to home,” he said.

Those who do not have ration card have been fending for themselves. Semiya Devi Prajapati, resident of Nayagaon, was told she would be given ration only when all ration card-holders get it. “I have a family of five. None of us have ration cards since we are not originally from here. But we need food,” she said. 

Mukesh Verma, an e-rickshaw driver, with his daughters. Photo: Jigyasa Mishra

A public distribution system outlet in the village allegedly asked non-card holders to come and buy the leftovers at lower price once all card holders got their share, claimed villagers.

Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chauhan did away with the requirement of any card or ID to access food, after the lockdown was extended.

The state announced free ration to 32 lakh such people from the state government quota, which includes four kilograms of wheat and one kg rice per head. 

Following this, Satna also announced free ration to its residents without the need to do any paperwork.

Ajay Katesaria, district collector, said, “I will confirm this and do what is the best for residents. We have been distributing food packets to needy families with help from Red Cross.”

According to a recent study by International Food Policy Research Institute on how India’s response to COVID-19:

COVID-19 exposes a harsh reality: An inadequate and uneven safety net may leave many from these economically vulnerable groups without access to food and other services. 

Many more villages and districts are facing a similar situation. Another resident of Uttar Pradesh’s Chitrakoot district claimed she got only rice in the name of ration.

Chitrakoot district magistrate (DM) Shesh Mani Pandey claimed ration shops had restocked wheat and those who did not get it earlier may try again.

On families that did not have ration card, the DM said the administration will deposit Rs 1,000 in their bank accounts. “We are helping non-ration card holders with Rs 1,000 each. The process is underway,” Pandey said.

However, a ration shop owner from Chitrakoot claimed they got wheat only for the month of March.

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