NEW DELHI: Even though the Delhi government is claiming to have left no stone unturned during this lockdown due to COVID-19 outbreak to help the masses, people seem to be dissatisfied with the distribution of food.
Sheher Singh pulls out two packages of rotis -- one three-day-old and the other two-day-old -- that people donated at an informal settlement in Tughlaqabad. This would see him and his family with five kids through, he said.
“But I cannot eat the khichdi being distributed by the Delhi government. We are not used to eating rice daily. And how can they distribute such poor-quality khichdi during this period?” said Singh.
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Children and the elderly in the settlement sharply refuse to eat rice-based food too. An agitated young woman, Geeta — who has three sons — wondered aloud why the poor is expected to eat ‘half-cooked’ food.“The announcements said the poor will receive donations from the government. Is this what we get? We are not rice eaters. And, why should we eat half-cooked food? Is it the middlemen who are benefitting?” said Geeta.
Amid the lockdown due to COVID-19 outbreak, the Delhi government is distributing food from over 300 government schools. If many people do not turn up at the school, the authorities go and distribute it in informal settlements.
The government, along with civil society organisations, is also distributing food in settlements which do not have night shelters or schools near them. But the beneficiaries have questioned the quality of food.
Abhinandita Mathur, advisor to Delhi’s Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia and currently supervising the relief operations, said the Delhi government is trying to draw out a mechanism to pack rotis to be distributed among people.
Nitu Mathur of Civil Defence, posted at the school for food distribution said, “When there is excess food, we distribute the rest in near-by clusters. But people have pointed out they cannot keep eating khichdi. On days, there are other items like kadhi chawal, rajma chawal. The supplies are over quickly,” said Mathur.
At a senior secondary school in Badarpur, a physical training teacher echoed similar views. “The problem is almost every other day they are giving people just khichdi,” he said.
The government is trying to work on an improved menu, said Mathur.“We have got feedback that there are complaints on repetition. We are monitoring quality and we contact the kitchen to tell them about the quality. We will also try to include pickle and salad with khichdi, with other nutritious items,” added Mathur.