BHUBANESWAR: Beneficiaries of food and income security in Odisha have been hit by the double whammy of lockdown and denial of ration and dues.The majority of these right-holders are differently-abled, aged or chronically ill persons, who require immediate support. There are lakhs of eligible individuals who are in dire need of food support and have applied for ration cards, but their applications are pending with the Food Supply and Consumer Welfare department. The PDS and pension beneficiaries are also being denied their entitlement due to lack of Aadhaar seeding.
Besides, labourers engaged in MGNREGS works are suffering a lot as 54 per cent (pc) of the wage payments is pending at the Central level. The non-timber forest products (NTFP) collectors are also forced to sell their produces at distress prices.Underlining the issues, Odisha Khadya Adhikar Abhiyan (Right to Food Campaign, Odisha) has appealed Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik to address Covid and lockdown-induced food and work crisis and strengthen the welfare schemes in the State.
The right to food activists have urged to do away with mandatory biometric or IRIS authentication provisions and provide ration to the eligible beneficiaries without Aadhaar seeding till the pandemic is over. “The block level officials should ensure that there is enough MGNREGS work sanctioned to cover as many habitations as possible. Panchayats should be allowed to add work up to Rs 10 lakh without having to use the Software for Estimate Calculation Using Rural Rates for Employment (SECURE),” co-convenor Sameet Panda said.
They have also urged the government to get the MGNREGS fund released from the Centre for clearing pending wages of workers and come out with a cash support initiative to help domestic workers and transgender community.“Steps should be taken for the migrant workers who have returned to Balangir, Nuapada and Kalahandi districts and need support in terms of seeds and fertilisers to initiate farming activities,” said another co-convenor Bidyut Mohanty and suggested to incentivise Covid vaccination by providing cash and ration in rural areas.