A PIL has been filed jointly by Right To Food Campaign Chhattisgarh, Chhattisgarh Hawkers Federation, Jayendra Jha and Amarnath Pandey in the Bilaspur High Court praying for appropriate direction to the respondents to exercise their powers under various legal provisions and take immediate measures especially social security, welfare measures in the interest of the various vulnerable sections of society that are being affected by the COVID 19 shutdown. The respondents are Chhattisgarh state government and the Central government.
The grounds quoted by the petition include provisions under Article 21 of the Constitution of India, Article 47 of the Constitution of India, the National Food Security Act, 2013, Epidemic Diseases Act, 1897, Essential Commodities Act, 1957, Disaster Management Act, 2005, Chhattisgarh Food Security Act, Unorganized Worker Social Security Act, 2008, Street Vendors (Protection of Livelihood and Regulation of Street Vending) Act 2014, and Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act 2005. Guidelines of the World Health Organisation and state wise comparison of the social security measures have also been included.
We, the petitioners have asked for the following relief:
1. Monthly unemployment allowance to be paid till the crisis continues, to all but not limited to unorganized sector workers registered with labour department including construction workers, daily wage workers, street vendors, loaders.
2. Increase existing social security pensions (old persons, disabled, widows) amount by 50% and pay it in advance by 1st April, 2020.
3. Each Gram Panchayat to have atleast two functional worksites under MNREGA, offering atleast 50 days of work per registered family from 1st April to 15th June 2020
Food Security/Public Distribution System
4. 50% increase in quantity over earlier entitlement, given free of cost for the poor (Priority Ration Cards and Antyodaya Ration Cards) and three months quantity given in advance.
5. Arrangement for free lunch and dinner for Urban poor and destitutes in government run community kitchens near bus stands, railway stations, hospitals, religious places etc. (to be organized by district collectors)
6. State Government to ensure that the PDS shops are well stocked with grains, vegetables and other essentials to enable beneficiaries under the National Food Security Act to purchase the same from the PDS Shops.
7. Deliver ration, hand wash, gloves, and make them available to the public at the PDS shops.
8. Ensure that all Front line Workers in the essential services not restricted to but particularly in the Health , Law and Order, Sanitation services and Utilities are provided with Protective Gear and Medical Facilities;
9. Decentralise the testing and treatment for COVID – 19;
10. Take steps for the local production of testing kits for the novel coronavirus, medicines and protective gear by engaging local self help groups, support groups, voluntary organisations, and others.
11. Utilisation of government buildings, schools or colleges, public halls, hostels, stadiums to temporarily house homeless persons, stranded daily wage workers and other slum dwellers.
12. Restore Public transport in terms of bus for routine patients to reach hospitals and healthcare and for ANMs, nurses, other healthcare workers and support staff to reach their duties.
Education and Communication
13. Conduct drives to educate the slum dwellers, daily wage labourers, sex workers, manual scavanger workers, construction workers, street vendors as well as homeless population about the Epidemic and further distribute protective equipment to workers free of cost through PDS Ration Shops.
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