Kejriwal announces free rations for two months for Delhi’s 72 lakh card-holders
Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal on Tuesday announced free rations for two months for the state’s 72 lakh ration card-holders and a dole for taxi and autorickshaw drivers, which many termed too little too late to stop migrants from leaving amid the pandemic-induced lockdown.
Kejriwal, however, was silent on the additional 69.6 lakh electronic ration card beneficiaries who had been given provisions during last year’s countrywide lockdown.
Kejriwal said in a webcast: “Last week we made a special announcement for the labourers that we will deposit Rs 5,000 each in their accounts and this has been already sent to their accounts. We’d also announced that we’d help those (construction) labourers falling ill and whose RT-PCR reports turn out positive.… Today we have taken two major decisions. Firstly, free ration will be provided to the around 72 lakh ration card-holders of Delhi for the next two months. Having said that, one should not assume that the lockdown will continue for the next two months.”
The Delhi government has set up 150 food distribution centres and 2,10,684 construction workers will receive the cash transfers.
The chief minister said: “Just as last year, when the lockdown was imposed, all of Delhi’s auto drivers and taxi drivers will be given Rs 5,000 each by the Delhi government.”
Sheikh Hamidul Islam from Bengal has been an embroiderer in Delhi for 30 years and is someone many from the profession go to for advice. Despite his long innings in the capital, his family of four does not have a ration card.
Hamidul told The Telegraph: “We were in Bengal for four months as my sons only have online classes now in their (Delhi) school. We came back on April 10 just before the lockdown (was imposed on April 19 in the capital). I own our house here, but for two years my ration card application is pending even though my Aadhaar card is from Delhi.”
Last year, Hamidul and other families in the tailoring business in the area were given rations by CPM labour arm Citu until the Delhi government issued them temporary ration coupons and e-cards and allowed rations to be given to pending applicants. This time 20 out of these 28 families at a slum in South Delhi’s Chattarpur have left.
“I can’t go back to Midnapore as I am broke. I can’t even pay rent to the owner of the workshop premises at Shahpur Jat. We’re surviving on savings and help from friends. I feel bad to ask the party (CPM) for help as I know the comrades have nothing left to give,” Hamidul told this newspaper.
Dharmendra Kumar, president of the Hawkers Joint Action Committee in New Delhi, told this newspaper: “Later generations of migrants do not have documentation in Delhi or the place of origin. Government schemes generally favour property owners, and without their cooperation you can’t get a ration card. Most people eligible for rations are tenants.”