CHENNAI: With the State government announcing a fresh batch of monetary relief, including Rs 1,000 for ration card holders in Chennai and neighbouring districts, the homeless in the city have fallen through the cracks, yet again. A third-party survey conducted by the city corporation in 2018 showed that 48 per cent of homeless households in the city do not have ration cards. The survey estimated there were about 9,087 homeless individuals in the city, and while many of them possessed a voter ID, they did not have ration cards, which are mandatory for availing the cash relief.
“We have stayed here for generations. We have not been able to avail relief during the lockdown, because out of the 200-odd families, only around 160 have ration cards,” said Sarada Devi (name changed), a resident of Stringer street. Another study carried by the Information and Resource Centre for the Deprived Urban Communities (IRCDUC) in February 2019, found that 84 per cent of the surveyed homeless households here, did not have ration cards.
“The government has to think about us too. We couldn’t even buy food because all of them were closed. Moreover, distributing relief was also not allowed,” said a homeless individual. “The State should ensure that no one is left out in the relief process,” said Vanessa Peter of IRCDUC.
The situation is not very different for the card holder either — they are addressed to a nearby shop or sometimes, lamp posts, say people there. A survey by the city corporation had also stated that only 36 per cent of the homeless families cooked their own food.While for some it may be worthy of the word ‘relief’, for the homeless Rs 1,000 still seems like a distant dream.