The Delhi government on June 5 began distributing four kg of wheat and one kg of rice to non-ration card holders but soon ran into shortage issues at several centres across the national capital.
Sudha Devi, 30, has been queuing up at a government school in Delhi for the last four days in hope of free ration but to no avail. “They shoo us away. We just get bruised and scraped struggling in queues and then go back empty handed. They say come at 2 PM. When we return, they send us away again. We get nothing,” she laments.
This is the story of several non-ration card holders in Delhi who have been turned back empty handed as many distribution centres have run out of stock.
The Delhi government on June 5 began distributing four kg of wheat and one kg of rice to non-ration card holders but soon ran into shortage issues at several centres across Munirka, Ber Sarai, RK Puram, Shahpur Jat and Seemapuri.
For people like Sudha whose livelihood has been affected by the lockdown, making ends meet has been a struggle. She has been unable to pay her Rs 5,000 monthly rent.
“I have been coming here for four days but returning empty handed every time. My husband used to be a driver but has been unemployed for the last two months due to the lockdown. We don’t even have enough money to feed ourselves so how will we pay rent,” said Sudha, a mother of two.
Forty-five-year-old Aneeta Rani has also been turned away multiple times from the centre. “I queue up at the centre from 5 AM for four days but the stock finishes here so quickly. My husband used to be a photographer at weddings, but he has had no work for two months due to lockdown. I have two kids who are in their teens. There is no money to run the household,” she said.
“I keep borrowing money from everywhere. Schemes are announced in the name of poor people, but we are the ones who suffer endlessly to even get access to the benefits of the scheme.”
Priyanka, 28, hails from Bettiah in Bihar and used to work as a househelp, her husband was a construction labourer but both lost work and had hopes of getting food through this scheme. They have not been able to get a ration card till date.
She has also not been able to get any ration from the government school distribution centre in Hauz Rani area of South Delhi.
Priyanka has been living in Delhi for the past five years now but says that documentation has proved to be a hurdle in getting a ration card. She said, “I don’t have an Aadhaar card at the Delhi address. The landlord also does not provide documents to help us in getting a ration card. I have an Aadhar card at my Bettiah address.”
Delhi Food and Civil Supplies Minister Imran Hussain, however, insists that stock will be replenished soon. “A large number of people turned up at several centres in excess of what was expected. But people should not be concerned. We have placed orders with the Food Corporation of India for more foodgrain, which will arrive soon,” he said.
But activists have been raising questions about the government’s estimates. Anjali Bhardwaj who is a Food rights activist and member of Delhi Rozi Roti Adhikaar Abhiyaan said, “Last year the Delhi government had to give free rations to 70 lakh people and there is no reason to say poverty has gone down and fewer people will need rations this time. Unfortunately, the government said it will give it to 20 lakh people this time, starting with two lakh in the first phase. This is grossly inadequate.”