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Jharkhand govt's 'false' impression of 10 kg foodgrains to those without ration card

By Our Representative
The civil society organization, Right to Food Campaign (Jharkhand), has taken strong exception to the Government of Jharkhand announcing, as part of its relief measure, that eligible households, left out of the public distribution system (PDS), should be given 10 kg of foodgrains if they have applied for a ration card out of the contingency fund of Rs 10,000 of gram panchayat heads.
Pointing out that following the announcement of the state government an impression has been created that this section would get 10 kg per month without any problem, a campaign statement said that the government announcement “cannot be counted as a relief measure.”
It added, “This fund is far too small to provide even a one-off ration of 10 kg to the 7 lakh excluded households who have applied for a ration card. No provision has been made for integrating excluded households into the PDS during this crisis.”
Calling upon the Jharkhand government to cover all these households under PDS, with regular monthly rations at the National Food Security Act (NFSA) levels, the statement said, “The government should also take extensive measures to strengthen the public distribution system in this time of crisis.”
“The crisis is likely to last for months, even if the lockdown ends soon”, the campaign said, adding, “During this period, millions of households will depend on government support (especially the PDS and cash transfers) for their survival.”
  “In this situation, it is extremely important to ensure that the PDS functions well and covers all vulnerable households. Unfortunately, the government of Jharkhand has done little so far beyond routine measures”, it insisted.
The state government should implement the Central government commitment to double PDS rations for the next three months
Recommending measures to ensure proper implementation of NFSA, the statement said, the state government should take “active steps” to implement the Central government’s commitment to double PDS rations for the next three months.
It added, “So far, no orders have been issued to that effect. This month (April), dealers have been instructed to distribute double rations, but as of now this consists of advance rations for April and May, not double rations. Even advance rations are not being distributed this month in many places.” 
The statement further said, “Public employees (and even police personnel, if necessary, in some areas) should be instructed to supervise distribution at ration shops so that there is no cheating”, demanding “special grievance-redressal facilities” to take “strict action” against corrupt dealers and government officials. It added, “Grievance redressal agencies should include agencies independent of the food department.”
Looking beyond PDS, the statement said, “The Government of Jharkhand should explicitly commit itself to a comprehensive relief package, not just for the lockdown period but the next six months at the very least. At the moment, it is acting as if the crisis were going to end with the lockdown.”
It added, “The token measures spelt out by the Chief Minister in his letter addressed to elected representatives and Deputy Commissioners, do not serve the purpose at all.”

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