In the current scenario of the second wave of corona epidemic, government in Chhattisgarh state has imposed a lockdown in most of the districts of the state. The poor suffered the most in the lockdown imposed last year. Last year, a “Hunger-Watch” survey conducted in September 2020 found that starvation conditions had intensified due to the Corona lockdown. The figures of this survey show that 55% of the people had a decrease in income and 36% of the people had zero income. The lack of income also had an impact on food security. Rice consumption decreased in 48% respondents, pulses in 70% and vegetable consumption decreased in 77%.
Where the rich and middle class can stock weeks of rations and supplies before lockdown, the poor section does not have that luxury. In lockdown, employment of many poor is stopped. In times like epidemic, when the government adopts the option of lockdown to contain pandemic, it becomes its responsibility to make complete arrangements for meeting the basic needs of the poor. And if the government is not willing to make such an arrangement, then it does not have the right to impose a stringent lockdown. The government should have thought about ensuring food security before putting a lockdown.
Due to the lockdown, there are millions of laborers, workers, small street workers and informal sector workers who have no means of employment. There is a shortage of food in their homes. Vegetable growers are rotting their produce. In such a situation, there is an urgent need for the government to provide proper social and food security for the poor sections.
In view of this situation, Right to Food Campaign and Jan Swasthya Abhiyan, Chhattisgarh demands: –
1) Last year, the additional ration (cereals and pulses) given under the Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Yojana should be reintroduced and should be kept so till the Covid situation continues.
2) Like for Mid-Day Means in schools, dry ration (rice, lentils, egg, oil and other dry ingredients) should be given to children and other beneficiaries in lieu of hot food from Anganwadi centers.
3) Community kitchen should be arranged in ward or panchayat level.
4) The government should buy vegetables from farmers and distribute them through community kitchens.
5) Every laborer, daily laborer, small businessman, etc. should be compensated in lieu of work loss.
6) There should be free food arrangements for migrant laborers at bus stops and railway stations.
7) Helpline number should be issued in every district for food assistance, through which active help should be provided.