Many jhuggi jhopdi clusters across the National Capital region face imminent hunger and starvation. Dry ration is still not available to most people without ration cards. The cooked food that is being sent is in short supply and spoilt in some cases. In Rajasthani Camp, near Sarita Vihar, less than 600 packets of food are sent when there are at least 5,500 people living. Additionally, the packaged food which was sent on Tuesday afternoon was spoilt and had to be thrown away.
The 600 food packets that were sent to the colony gave off a putrid odour and were not fit for consumption. “The food arrived late today and when we opened it, it gave off a rotten smell. IF we had consumed it, we would have fallen ill. There was rice and dal in the boxes. We don’t know what we can do with all of this as no one will eat it. We will have to go hungry till night,” said Harpal, a resident of Rajasthani Camp.
“The weather has changed. It has become summer, so the food went bad. We do not want to complain, but how are we going to eat this. They cannot expect us to eat rotten food and then fall ill. We will not even be able to go to a hospital in case of food poisoning. Efforts of many people have gone to waste because it was not transported under proper conditions. Such things should not happen especially when there is food crisis in our colony,” added Arun, the Pradhan of the camp.
Most afternoons and evenings, there is also a rush to collect food packets and sometimes people fight for food too. Arun says it is inevitable because less than 600 packets of food come for around 5,500 people. “How will everyone in the camp manage. Of the 5,500 people, less than 250 have ration cards. They are getting ration, but what about the others. The government should give ration to everyone not just to those with cards,” underscored Arun.
On March 31, the Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal had announced that the Delhi government will arrange facilities to feed 10 to 12 lakh people daily from April 1 because of the lockdown imposed due to the spread of Covid-19. On April 4, Kejriwal announced that the government had provided lunch and dinner to around 6.5 lakh people at 1,500 food distribution centres across the city.
On the ground, the implementation has been inconsistent. Earlier this month, at least 20,000 people in Haiderpur Basti, near Shalimar Bagh, complained about lack of food and rations. They hadn’t eaten for several days and had come out on the streets to demand for food.