As the COVID-19 situation has been hard-hitting for many countries in the world, India is no exception. The State Governments and the Centre are taking various mitigation measures to fight the viral outbreak that has caused over 300 deaths in the nation as of yet. Jharkhand has also taken the pandemic situation on a war footing and is implementing the best of measures to combat this crisis. Arun Kumar Singh, Additional Chief Secretary to Government of Jharkhand, Department of Food, Public Distribution & Consumer Affairs, talks about the steps taken by his department to deal with this pandemic. in a webinar hosted by Dr Ravi Gupta, Founder & CEO, Elets Technomedia.
Singh, while addressing the webinar showed a presentation which displayed essential numbers about the schemes implemented and people benefitted. As per the presentation, around 263 lakh people are being provided with ration under the National Food Security Act. When asked about the supply of essential commodities like food grains, Singh said that steps are being taken to home deliver the essential ration and 73,618 families have so far benefited from the scheme.
Ensuring ration to needy families
Singh also informed about the logistics of the ration saying, “We are working on collecting information about the ration stores; We and sending voice mails to the people informing about them about the ration availability in their nearby stores.”
Further elaborating about the ration availability, Singh said, “There are two categories of people – the first, who are ration card holders and the second, who do not have ration cards or are not registered. Among those who are registered, again there are two categories of people including those who have the ration cards and those who have applied but do not have a card yet.” For the ones who are registered, both the card holders and those who have applied, the government is supplying 10 kg of ration per month to each of them, added Singh.
For those who are not registered, Singh said that those people can get themselves registered to claim the same amount of ration at Rs 1 per kg. The registration can be done through online portal as well, Singh added.
Food for the stranded
The nationwide lockdown following the orders from the Prime Minister has turned out to be a mammoth problem for the migrant workers who survive on their daily earnings for their food and livelihood. Moreover, in an attempt to prevent the spread of COVID-19 the State Governments have sealed borders to prevent any inter-state movement. The move has left these workers stranded in the cities without any food, money or shelter.
During the webinar, Singh talked about commendable measures taken by the Jharkhand Government to provide food and shelter to these stranded migrant labourers. “We have set up ‘Daal Bhaat Kendras’ for distributing food to the poor and the needy”, said Singh. With the help of community kitchens, we are making it possible to feed a big number of people, added Singh. He also informed that there are 805 community kitchens which are operating and serving people amidst the crisis. He further informed that around 2,11,248 people have benefited from such community kitchens.
According to Singh, the government has also started Mobile Food Vans to further widen the scope of coverage. These food vans are posing as a great enabler for the authorities to distribute food directly to shelter homes and more.
Use of technology in containing COVID-19 situation
The Food, Public Distribution and Consumer Affairs Department of Government of Jharkhand is widely leveraging technology to reach out to people during the ongoing Corona crisis. Be it sending voice mails to people informing them about stock availability in nearby grocery stores or using database and monitoring measures to manage the stock of food grains, its transportation, and logistics.
Violation of the lockdown norms in cities and towns is a disheartening scenario that almost every state is dealing with. When asked about the monitoring of lockdown situation in the state, Singh said, the police department is using drones technology for surveillance. The move has enabled the police to ensure that lockdown norms are being complied with and people are not gathering in public places, streets, or open areas.
Further, as an additional safety measure, the biometric attendance system in offices has been discontinued. Instead, OTP based system has been implemented, Singh added.
Singh concluded by stating that in the State of Jharkhand, the situation has been taken seriously and all the necessary requirements have been taken care of, especially streamlined distribution of essential commodities and food requirements of poor and needy. Also, the authorities are deploying all the available resources at their disposal to ensure speedy containment of the disease and mitigate its after-effects.