Representational image. | Image Courtesy: Deccan Herald
As part of his new routine, Manoj, a sweeper, would everyday queue up for food inside a nearby school in Sangam Vihar, South Delhi but since the last two days, he has been returning home disappointed and empty handed – without food. In order to feed his family of six, he has been left with no other option than to knock people’s doors for food.
“For the past two days, there has been scarcity of food. Not enough ration is supplied. Not just papa, around 100 others haven’t got food,” said Manoj’s daughter Biba. While the Arvind Kejriwal government has claimed that they are giving free rations to 71 lakh people and promised 2 lakh cooked meals per day in government schools and night shelters, people in South Delhi’s Sangam Vihar and Dakshin Puri complain that there is a shortage of ration and the food provided is of poor quality.
“Jinko khaana mil raha hai, woh digest nahi kar paa rahey and tabiyat kharab ho rahi hai, jyadatar chhote bacche (whoever is getting food is falling sick, mostly small kids),” alleged Biba. She claimed that after eating poori sabzi, which was provided by the government, she suffered from stomach ache and vomited twice.
Dakshin Puri and Sangam Vihar are two remote areas of South Delhi dotted with working class population ranging from sweepers to labourers.
Al Ahmad, a wall painter from Dakshin Puri told NewsClick that the ration is not reaching everyone forcing many people to starve. “The food is reaching the ration shop but is not reaching all the needy people,” said another worker from the area.
Also read: COVID-19: Delhi PDS Shops Shut, Owners Say Lack of Supplies
“There are 300 people at my village. And since past few days, around 100-150 didn’t get food. We can’t afford to buy ration. Government needs to address our issue,” said Biba.
Many complained how queuing up outside the ration shops was defeating the entire purpose of social distancing.
“When people queue up, they are so desperate to get ration and food that they jump the line so that they don’t have to return empty handed. That defeats the entire purpose of social distancing,” another resident said.
Manoj said that for past two days they have been surviving on a bread loaf offered to them by a kind shopkeeper. “I have asked my father to wait till there are less people because we don’t know who is infected and who isn’t. But this wait costs us. We end up not having ration,” his daughter added.
A few residents also complained about the callous attitude of of the vendors. “Every day there is a change in the food distribution stops. Till the time we get to the new stop, the food is already over. At least, they should fix one stop. There is no system, there is no fixed time so that we could practice social distancing,” said Ahmad.
“If this is how they have to distribute food, people here will turn mad and kill themselves. Hunger is the bigger devil for us,” he added.
Most of the people insisted that the government should fix a system and ensure door to door delivery so that people have sufficient food to eat and can maintain social distance. “We appreciate Kejriwal ji for the lockdown and we understand how difficult the situation is but we want him to understand that we are poor people and we are not demanding just clean food,” said a labourer.
Also read: Covid-19 Lockdown: Pakistani Hindu Refugees Feel Abandoned, Struggle to Arrange Food