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Delhi's 20% ration shops closed, 67% don't display entitlements: NGO survey

Counterview Desk
A fresh report on distribution of ration in Delhi published by the Delhi Rozi Roti Adhikar Abhiyan (DRRAA) on the monitoring of distribution of rations in Delhi during the Covid-19 crisis has found that 10 of 51 (20%) fair price shops checked between June 1 and June 8 were closed during working hours.
The survey further finds that five out of 28 (18%) 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 closed.
“In violation of the directions of the Delhi High Court, in 35% of the schools checked by DRRAA volunteers, no help desk was set up to help people apply for e-coupons”, the report asserts, adding, “The list of people who have been given e-coupons is not available in the public domain. Further, details about ration cardholders who have availed of their rations are not available in the public domain.”

Excerpts:

DRRAA volunteers visited a total of 51 ration shops in Delhi located in Munirka, Chirag Delhi, RK Puram, Govindpuri, Kalka ji, Greater Kailash, Bawana, Mangolpuri, Kalu Sarai, Yusuf Sarai, Hauz Khas, Hauz Rani, Masjid Moth, Mahveer Enclave, Vijay Enclave, Tughlaqabad extension, Sriniwaspuri, Okhla Phase 1, Pehladpur and Harkesh Nagar. Several shops were checked on more than one day.
Delhi has a network of 2,030 ration shops. The government had announced that ration distribution for the month of June 2020 will commence from June 1 in a graded/staggered manner.
Key findings emerging from visits to the 51 shops are:
Ten of the 51 ration shops (20%) were closed when visited during working hours. The figure is an improvement as compared to the previous report dated May 5, 2020 which showed that 34% shops were found closed during working hours.
Thirty eight of the 41 shops which were open were found to be distributing grains to ration cardholders. The remaining 3 shops, at the time of our visit on June 2, claimed that they were awaiting directions from the Delhi government to begin distribution of rations.
While the government had ordered that distribution of ration for the month of June 2020 would commence from June 1 in a graded/staggered manner, no shop-wise or area-wise schedule of distribution was publicly available indicating the exact date on which people could start availing rations.
Due to the ensuing confusion, in several places DRRAA volunteers found that hundreds of people had gathered at ration shops even though the government had not yet allowed shops to commence distribution.
All 38 shops which were open and distributing grains were found to be providing the stipulated quantity and free of cost as per the orders of the government. This is a significant improvement as until the last report (May 5, 2020), in several cases we found that shopkeepers were providing less than the stipulated quantity of foodgrains.
There was an improvement as compared to the previous survey when it 34% shops were found closed during working hours
In 34 of the 51 shops visited (67%), no notice board/banner was found displaying the category-wise entitlement of rations. This is despite the fact that the order dated May 31, 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. 
In 33 of the 51 shops (65%), no civil defence volunteer, representative of the MLA or police personnel was present. The Delhi government had announced that a civil defence volunteer and a representative of the MLA would be stationed at each shop to monitor foodgrain distribution.

Distribution through designated schools on the basis of e-coupons

Schools monitored 588 schools have been designated for distributing rations through e-coupons. These designated centres are required to maintain all necessary records including list of e-coupon holders, details of stock received and daily distribution register containing details of e-coupon holders to whom foodgrains have been distributed. In addition as per the Delhi High Court order, help-desks are to be set up in all schools to assist people in applying online for e-coupons.
Between June 1 and June 9, DRRAA visited a total of 28 designated schools in Delhi located in Munirka, Vasant Vihar, RK Puram, Nanak Pura, Moti Bagh, Begumpur, Malviya Nagar, Savitri Nagar, Hauz Rani, Mahvir Enclave, Harkesh Nagar, Sanjay Colony, Okhla, Tughlaqabad extension, Pehladpur, Chirag Delhi, East of Kailash, Jamrudpur, Shahpur Jat, Mehrauli and Kalkaji. Several schools were checked on more than one day. 
Findings:
Five of the 28 schools (18%) were found to be shut when visited during the stipulated hours for distribution. In 4 schools, the officials present stated that the stock of ration had been exhausted. One school did not allow the volunteer to enter the premises. 
Five of the 18 schools which were open, were found to be distributing grains to e-coupon holders. In 12 schools, no e-coupon holder was present to avail the rations while in one school in Harkesh Nagar while more than 50 e-coupon holders were waiting for their rations, no distribution was happening.
The officials present in the school stated they start distribution only after noon as the school is also a designated feeding centre. All the schools were distributing the additional kit containing oil, chhole, sugar, salt, soap and masalas. In five schools we found that even those without e-coupons had turned up to avail of rations.
In nine of the 26 schools there was no help desk to assist people in applying for an e-coupon. The presence of help desk was checked by DRRAA volunteers in 26 schools on June 8 and 9, as in its May 28 order, the Delhi High Court had given five working days to the government to set up the facility.
In nine of the 17 schools where help desks had been setup, people were being assisted in applying for e-coupon. In the rest, the schools officials informed us that they were yet to set up the necessary equipment – computer with internet connection or smart phone in order to assist people.
In most schools no notice, displaying the quantity of commodities to be supplied 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. In 75% of the schools no details of the grievance redressal mechanism was displayed.
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