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Food distribution 'locked out': 34% Delhi ration shops closed, many don't have stock

A fair price shop in Delhi
Counterview Desk
A new report by the civil rights organization Delhi Rozi Roti Adhikar Abhiyan (DRRAA) on monitoring of distribution of rations in Delhi during the Covid-19 lockdown shows that 21 of the 61 (34%) ration shops checked between May 1 and May 4 were closed during working hours. Many shops claimed that their full stocks had not reached.
The report also says that 25% of the schools designated as ration distribution centres, where people who do not have ration cards can take rations through the e-coupon system, were also found closed. None of the schools were distributing ration kits announced by Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal.

Excerpts:

For providing foodgrains during the lockdown to those not covered under the National Food Security Act (NFSA), the government has set up a mechanism of issuing e-coupons, for which people need to apply online by furnishing the aadhaar numbers of all members of the household.
Once successfully generated, e-coupon holders can avail stipulated quantity of foodgrains from designated schools which are functioning as distribution centres. Initially a quota of 10 lakh individuals was set for the e-coupon system and was subsequently enhanced to 30 lakh.
Proper implementation of the food programmes through ration shops and designated schools is crucial, especially during the time of the coronavirus crisis when lakhs of people are facing shortage of food and are on the brink of starvation.

Entitlement

Based on the enhancements announced by the Delhi government and the Central government, the following are the ration entitlements to be disbursed in the month of May 2:
On Priority category ration cards: 10 kgs of foodgrains per person and one kit per ration card containing 1 litre refined oil, 1 kg chhole, 1 kg salt, 1 kg sugar, masalas and 2 bars of soap
On Antyodaya (AAY) category ration cards: 35 kgs foodgrains per card and 1 kg of sugar along with an additional quota of 5 kgs foodgrains per person and one kit per ration card containing 1 litre refined oil, 1 kg chhole, 1 kg salt, 1 kg sugar, masalas and 2 bars of soap
On E-coupons: 5 kgs of foodgrains per person listed on the coupon and one kit per e-coupon containing 1 litre refined oil, 1 kg chhole, 1 kg salt, 1 kg sugar, masalas and 2 bars of soap
All ration to be provided free of cost: In addition, on March 26, the Central government announced that 1 kg dal per family will be given to ration cardholders free of cost for 3 months to provide relief to the poor. This has not reached the ration shops in Delhi till date.

Ration shops

Between May 1 and May 4, DRRAA volunteers visited a total of 61 ration shops in Delhi located in Govindpuri, Govindpuri extension,Tughlaqabad, Tughlaqabad extension, Kalka ji, Bawana, Budh Vihar, Nehru Market, Mahvir Enclave, Vijay Enclave, Badarpur, Krishna Nagar, Jagt Puri, Baldev Park, Munirka, RK Puram, Kalu Sarai, Chirag Delhi, Sangam Vihar Narela, Trilokpuri, Nand Nagri, Okhla 2, and Sriniwaspuri. Several shops were checked on more than one day.
Twenty one of the 61 ration shops (34%) were closed when visited during working hours. Five shops in Badarpur and Narela were found shut on more than once occasion. In Narela, one shop has been shut since March 29, whenever volunteers visit. Upon further inquiry, the DRRAA volunteer was told that the shop has been shut for a long time and that ration is distributed in another location in Tikri Khurd village.
Twenty-seven of the 40 shops which were open were found to be distributing grains to ration cardholders. The other shops claimed that they were awaiting the arrival of the additional kits (consisting of 1 litre refined oil, 1 kg chhole, 1 kg salt, 1 kg sugar, masalas and 2 bars of soap) to start distribution of ration. In a shop in Kalyanpuri, while the shopkeeper claimed that distribution had not started as no stock of foodgrains had reached, the volunteer could visually confirm that sacks containing foodgrains were stored in the shop.
A closed ration shop
Of the 27 shops which were open and distributing grains, 26 were found to be distributing the additional kit containing oil, chhole, sugar, salt, soap and masalas. One ration shop in Tughlakabad was not distributing the kit as the shopkeeper claimed he had not received the stock.
Of the 27 shops which were open and distributing grains, two shops in Narela and Chirag Delhi were found to be distributing less than the stipulated quantity of foodgrains on Antyodaya (AAY) ration cards. AAY cardholders are entitled to receive 35 kgs foodgrains per card and 1 kg of sugar along with an additional quota of 5 kgs foodgrains per person and one essential items kit.
The shop in Chirag Delhi provided 42 kgs of foodgrains to 2 AAY cardholders even though they were entitled to 60 kgs as they had 4 people listed on their ration cards. Similarly on a AAY card, which had 5 members and therefore, should have received 65 kgs, only 42 kgs was provided. Further, this shop and the shop in Narela were not providing 1 kg sugar to AAY cardholders which they are entitled to as per the NFSA.
All the shops that were open and distributing grain, were giving ration free of cost as per the announcement of the Delhi and Central government.
In only seven of the 61 shops visited, a notice board/banner was found displaying the category-wise enhancement of entitlement and the fact that ration would be given free of cost. In the remaining shops, we could not locate any such information.
This is despite the fact that the order dated April 23, 2020 of the Delhi government stipulates that a board detailing total entitlement of beneficiaries under NFSA and the additional enhancements is to be mandatorily displayed prominently at all ration shops in the specified format.
The shops that were open and distributing grain were giving ration free of cost as per announcement by Delhi, Central govts
In 30 of the 61 shops, no civil defence volunteer, representative of the MLA or police personnel was present. The Delhi government had announced and reiterated through its order dated April 23, 2020 that a civil defence volunteer and a representative of the MLA would be stationed at each shop to monitor foodgrain distribution.

Schools

Between April 29 and May 4, DRRAA visited a total of 20 designated schools in Delhi located in Swami Nagar, Chirag Delhi, Malviya Nagar, Savitri Nagar, Narela, Hauz Rani, Holambi Kalan, Begumpur, Shahpur Jat, East of Kailash, Matia Mahal, Mahveer Enclave, Jamroodpur, Munirka, RK Puram and Kalkaji. Several schools were checked on more than one day.
Five of the 20 schools were found to be shut when visited during the stipulated hours for distribution. An e-coupon holder who was allotted a school in Matia Mahal, Jama Masjid as the distribution centre, informed us that the school has been shut throughout the last week of April as the area was designated a red zone. Despite visiting the school several times and bringing the issue to the notice of the area Food Supply Officer and the CM via email, the e-coupon holder has not received rations for the month of April.
Ration being distributed in a school
Eleven of the 15 schools which were open were found to be distributing grains to e-coupon holders. In the other 4 schools, no e-coupon holder was present to avail the rations.
Of the 11 schools which were distributing grains, one was found to be distributing less than the stipulated quantity of foodgrains to e-coupon holders by citing that there was a mistake in the aadhaar numbers of the members of the household listed on the e-coupon.
None of the schools were distributing the additional kit containing oil, chhole, sugar, salt, soap and masalas.
In eight schools we found that even those without e-coupons had turned up to avail of rations. There was no facilitation/help desk in any of the schools to assist such persons in applying for an e-coupon and they were turned away without rations. In one school in Malviya Nagar, we found the school guard had taken up the task of helping people apply for e-coupons.
In most schools, no notice displaying the entitlement on an e-coupon could be located. The list of e-coupon holders who are entitled to receive rations was not publicly displayed in any of the schools. No details of the grievance redressal mechanism were displayed at any of the schools.
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Click here to read full report,  prepared by Anjali Bhardwaj, Annie Raja, Dipa Sinha, Amrita Johri, Rajender Kumar, Aditi, Ravinder Kumar, Shreya Sen, Shakeel, Deepti, Snehlata, Ashok Kumar, Sagarika Ghatak, Dev, Indrani Talukdar, Neelesh, Prem, Rushda, Aakanksha and Ankita Aggarwal

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