Skip to main content

Hunger, food insecurity galore among Delhi's working poor, public hearing told


By Our Representative

A public hearing, organised by the Delhi Rozi Roti Adhikar Abhiyan (DRRAA) to highlight the crisis of food insecurity and hunger among the working poor and marginalised communities in India’s national capital, highlighted how economic distress caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, coupled with the inadequate response by the government, resulted in people being unable to find adequate work to be able to afford food.
People from across Delhi, slum dwellers, daily wagers, construction workers, homeless, widows, and physically challenged persons joined the hearing, testifying now about the problems being faced by them. Testimonies by many of them suggested that the situation of those who do not possess a ration card and are not covered under the National Food Security Act (NFSA) is especially precarious, as there is no programme or scheme of the government to provide any ration to them.
Chanchal, a resident of the Lal Gumbad Camp in South Delhi, said, before the lockdown, her husband was working as daily wage labourer, and she was working as domestic help. During the lockdown both of them lost their job, and for several months were not earning anything. The family, which includes three children, does not have a ration card.
The food intake of the family was severely impacted. It could not even afford milk for tea. Before the lockdown, all the three children used to go to school, where they would have mid-day meal. However, after the closure of schools in March, the midday meal was discontinued. The government is providing money in lieu of food, though the amount is extremely inadequate and payments erratic.
Referring to the Delhi government provision of paying food security allowance at the rate of Rs 78 per child at the upper level and Rs 94.60 per child the primary level, Chanchal said the two older children received Rs 78 in only for July, while the youngest one did not receive anything. While she found work recently, she earns just Rs 3,000 per month.
Rani, 62, a resident of Jagdamba camp, is a widow and takes care of her two grandchildren following her son’s death. She does not have a ration card and used to work as domestic help before the lockdown. Since March she is out of work on account of Covid. In mid-July her grandson, 14, began working as a rickshaw puller. Currently, he is working as a domestic help and earns Rs 2,000 in a month.
Soni is a resident of a slum camp and has five children. Her family does not possess a ration card. Before the lockdown, she used to work as a domestic help and her husband used to work as a delivery person in a shop. Together the two of them could earn around Rs 15,000. However, both of them have been out of work since the lockdown.
Due to rising Covid cases, Soni said, no one was ready to employ her. Her husband has also not been able to find work. The family does not have a ration card. During the lockdown, she applied for an e-coupon and received ration only once. The family lives a rented shanty for Rs 3,500 and is dependent for money and rations on her relatives and neighbours. They have an accumulated debt of Rs 15,000. Soni’s son, who studies in Class 11, has had to start work, and earns Rs 5,000. Right now, he is the only earning member in the family.
The government provided ration on the basis of temporary e-coupon scheme. It was provided for two months, and then discontinued
Pooja, who lives in a homeless shelter near Connaught Place, Bangla Sahib Gurdwara, said, when she went to apply for a ration card, the food department refused to take her application as they insisted that she get an electricity bill, even though she explained she was a homeless.
Transgender persons from Jahangirpuri, Reshma, Maharab and Reena, said, all the avenues of traditional earnings have got restricted and people in residential colonies would not allow them to visit their houses, including on occasions of weddings or births. None of them have ration cards.
The testimonies were proof that following the lockdown in March 2020, lakhs of people lost all their income. DRRAA filed a petition in the Delhi High Court regarding ensuring food security to people who did not have ration card. During the course of hearings, the Court gave the direction to secure peoples’ right to food and ensure that no one goes hungry to bed in Delhi.
Pursuant to these directions, the government provided ration to people on the basis of temporary e-coupon scheme. It received tens of thousands of applications for e-coupons from people who did not possess ration cards. However, ration was provided only for two months and then discontinued. 
The government claims, as travel restrictions have been eased, migrant workers have left Delhi and, therefore, there was no need to continue the scheme. Even free hot cooked meal through schools and shelters has been discontinued.
Among those who attended the public hearing included Delhi Urban Shelter Improvement Board (DUSIB) chief engineer Sanjay Kumar Mahajan, development economist Jean Dreze, journalist Pamela Philipose, Supreme Court advocate Sanjay Parikh, apart from activists Biraj Patnaik Anjali Bhardwaj, Annie Raja and Dipa Sinha.
A communique issued following the hearing demanded that the Delhi and Central governments immediately launch a programmes to provide rations to all those who need it irrespective of whether they possess a ration card. A ‘Covid Ration Card’ must be issued to all people and 10 kg of grains, pulses, edible oil should be provided till the time the Disaster Management Act is enforce and there is economic distress.
Further, DRRAA said, the midday meal scheme should be immediately properly implemented. In lieu of hot cooked food, dry grains along with eggs and fruits should be provided to all children. Essential anganwadi services, including hot cooked meal for pregnant women, should be restored. It added, to ensure that the NFSA is followed in letter and spirit, a Food Commission should be set be set up to undertake social audit of the law.
---
Click here and here to watch videos of DRRAA public hearing

Comments

TRENDING

Bill Gates as funder, author, editor, adviser? Data imperialism: manipulating the metrics

By Dr Amitav Banerjee, MD*  When Mahatma Gandhi on invitation from Buckingham Palace was invited to have tea with King George V, he was asked, “Mr Gandhi, do you think you are properly dressed to meet the King?” Gandhi retorted, “Do not worry about my clothes. The King has enough clothes on for both of us.”

Stagnating wages since 2014-15: Economists explain Modi legacy for informal workers

By Our Representative  Real wages have barely risen in India since 2014-15, despite rapid GDP growth. The country’s social security system has also stagnated in this period. The lives of informal workers remain extremely precarious, especially in states like Jharkhand where casual employment is the main source of livelihood for millions. These are some of the findings presented by economists Jean Drèze and Reetika Khera at a press conference convened by the Loktantra Bachao 2024 campaign. 

Displaced from Bangladesh, Buddhist, Hindu groups without citizenship in Arunachal

By Sharma Lohit  Buddhist Chakma and Hindu Hajongs were settled in the 1960s in parts of Changlang and Papum Pare district of Arunachal Pradesh after they had fled Chittagong Hill Tracts of present Bangladesh following an ethnic clash and a dam disaster. Their original population was around 5,000, but at present, it is said to be close to one lakh.

Anti-Rupala Rajputs 'have no support' of numerically strong Kshatriya communities

By Rajiv Shah  Personally, I have no love lost for Purshottam Rupala, though I have known him ever since I was posted as the Times of India representative in Gandhinagar in 1997, from where I was supposed to do political reporting. In news after he made the statement that 'maharajas' succumbed to foreign rulers, including the British, and even married off their daughters them, there have been large Rajput rallies against him for “insulting” the community.

Magnetic, stunning, Protima Bedi 'exposed' malice of sexual repression in society

By Harsh Thakor*  Protima Bedi was born to a baniya businessman and a Bengali mother as Protima Gupta in Delhi in 1949. Her father was a small-time trader, who was thrown out of his family for marrying a dark Bengali women. The theme of her early life was to rebel against traditional bondage. It was extraordinary how Protima underwent a metamorphosis from a conventional convent-educated girl into a freak. On October 12th was her 75th birthday; earlier this year, on August 18th it was her 25th death anniversary.

A Hindu alternative to Valentine's Day? 'Shiv-Parvati was first love marriage in Universe'

By Rajiv Shah*   The other day, I was searching on Google a quote on Maha Shivratri which I wanted to send to someone, a confirmed Shiv Bhakt, quite close to me -- with an underlying message to act positively instead of being negative. On top of the search, I chanced upon an article in, imagine!, a Nashik Corporation site which offered me something very unusual. 

Joblessness, saffronisation, corporatisation of education: BJP 'squarely responsible'

Counterview Desk  In an open appeal to youth and students across India, several student and youth organizations from across India have said that the ruling party is squarely accountable for the issues concerning the students and the youth, including expensive education and extensive joblessness.

What's Bill Gates up to? Have 'irregularities' found in funding HPV vaccine trials faded?

By Colin Gonsalves*  After having read the 72nd report of the Department Related Parliamentary Standing Committee on alleged irregularities in the conduct of studies using HPV vaccines by PATH in India, it was startling to see Bill Gates bobbing his head up and down and smiling ingratiatingly on prime time television while the Prime Minister lectured him in Hindi on his plans for the country. 

Following the 3000-year old Pharaoh legacy? Poll-eve Surya tilak on Ram Lalla statue

By Sukla Sen  Located at a site called Abu Simbel in Nubia, Upper Egypt, the eponymous rock temples were created in 1244 BCE, under the orders of Pharaoh Ramesses II (1303-1213 BC)... Ramesses II was fond of showcasing his achievements. It was this desire to brag about his victory that led to the planning and eventual construction of the temples (interestingly, historians say that the Battle of Qadesh actually ended in a draw based on the depicted story -- not quite the definitive victory Ramesses II was making it out to be).

Why it's only Modi ki guarantee, not BJP's, and how Varanasi has seen it up-close

"Development" along Ganga By Rosamma Thomas*  I was in Varanasi in this April, days before polling began for the 2024 Lok Sabha elections. There are huge billboards advertising the Member of Parliament from Varanasi, Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The only image on all these large hoardings is of the PM, against a saffron background. It is as if the very person of Modi is what his party wishes to showcase.