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Homeless & hungry: Food distribution banned, but e-grocery firms get nod 

“We distribute food to hundreds of homeless people everyday. A lot of them with mental health issues and physical disabilities are seldom admitted into a shelter home.

Published: 26th March 2020 06:34 AM  |   Last Updated: 26th March 2020 02:12 PM   |  A+A-

Coronavirus, Lockdown, Chennai

Police personnel checking motorists as the state witness first day of lockdown at Chennai. (Photo | Debadatta Mallick, EPS)

Express News Service

CHENNAI: “We distribute food to hundreds of homeless people everyday. A lot of them with mental health issues and physical disabilities are seldom admitted into a shelter home. They are completely dependent on us for food. Will they now be left to starve?” fumed Banu Priya, a volunteer who distributes food at Perambur.

The city corporation on Wednesday had banned both home delivery of food by online platforms and distribution by NGOs and volunteers. Banu Priya added that the civic body should make alternate arrangements to ensure food delivery to the homeless. Currently, the city corporation is providing food to only those in shelter homes. V Arul, another volunteer said, “The corporation is only accepting supplies like rice, oil and sugar from NGOs. The same people who are distributing these, can give cooked food too.” TNIE spoke to one such homeless man near Adabakkam, and learnt that he has been hungry since Tuesday night. “Amma canteen is the only affordable option, but I cannot walk. Even residents are not coming outside and we are scared,” he said.

A corporation official said that distribution of food was banned because it could be a potential source for spread of the virus. However, he added that the matter will be looked into.e-commerce firms can distribute essentials The corporation on Wednesday however allowed e-commerce companies to deliver essentials including grocery and vegetables, to homes. “The companies must strictly follow protocols of contactless delivery. Employees must wear safety gear like masks, gloves and caps, right from production to delivery,” said G Prakash, the corporation commissioner. 

Over 10,000 people
including children are homeless in Chennai, as per a recent study by the corporation

Weaker sections hit

With a nationwide lockdown in force, people dependent on daily earnings such as cab, autorickshaw drivers and food delivery executives, will feel the pinch as their earnings will take a beating. OMJASVIN MD gets a few reactions from the ground

If delivery boys are provided gloves, masks and sanitisers, they can keep the food at the doorstep
Tapas Dev, a food delivery executive with Swiggy

3 under quarantine sneak out, booked
Chennai: The police on Wednesday booked three persons for violating quarantine. A father-son duo in Koyambedu who returned from Baghdad on Sunday were asked to stay home. However, they went to their native. Meanwhile, a resident of Anna Nagar H Block returned from China a month ago and was under home quarantine. On Tuesday, he sneaked out and roamed around the city. All the three were booked under Sec 188 (Disobedience to order duly promulgated by public servant), 269 (Negligent act likely to spread infection of disease), 270 (Malignant act likely to spread infection of disease dangerous to life) and 271 (Disobedience to quarantine rule) of IPC, Sec 3 of the Epidemics Diseases Act and Sec 51(b) of Disaster Management Act.

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