Bhubaneswar: Union minister Pratap Sarangi and senior BJP leader Pradipta Naik have urged the Odisha government to take immediate steps during the lockdown to provide foodgrains to needy people who do not have ration cards. Help should also be extended to those who are not covered under any food security scheme, Naik said.
In separate letters to Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik, both of them expressed concern over a significant number of poor, destitute and homeless facing difficulties since they are not able to avail the benefits of the public distribution system (PDS) as they do not have ration cards.
During interactions with administrative authorities, NGOs and volunteers during the lockdown period, a key concern has been raised regarding ensuring food supply to migrant labourers, daily wage earners, poor, homeless and destitute, Sarangi said in his letter.
Though the authorities have been trying to enlarge access to food by doing away with the requirement of ration card and distributing foodgrains through the PDS to anyone who needs it during lockdown, many people, across the country, are being deprived of ration supply being provided by government agencies, Sarangi said in his letter, copy of which was released to the media.
"In Odisha, several instances have also come to my notice where despite the best efforts of the authorities, ration could not reach a significant number of poor, destitute and homeless not having ration cards," the minister said.
Maintaining that the country has enough foodgrains to feed the people, the BJP leader urged the state government to direct the district authorities to waive, for the time being, the requirement of ration card for supplying foodgrains.
They can do so by undertaking proper identification of such people gram-panchayat wise so as to ensure that not a single person in the state goes to sleep with empty stomach, Sarangi said.
In his letter, Naik said that many poor people who are not covered under the National Food Security Act (NFSA) and the State Food Security Scheme (SFSS) in Odisha are in a state of despair during the lockdown.
The senior BJP leader urged the state government to provide free rice and pulses under the PDS to all households, who do not have ration cards, to mitigate their plight in this hour of crisis due to coronavirus pandemic.
Pointing out that the Centre has relaxed certain rules for use of the State Disaster Response Fund (SDRF) and the District Mineral Foundation (DMF) Fund to fight COVID-19, Naik requested the chief minister to use the funds to provide free rice and pulses to those poor families, who are yet to get ration cards.