Here are the main findings of a quick survey of essential facilities in rural Jharkhand (ration shops, dal-bhat kendras, anganwadis, among others) conducted by members of the right to food campaign during the first week of April 2020. “Observers” dispersed over 50 blocks in 19 districts were asked to check the local facilities and report their observations over the phone.

The general picture is grim: very little public support is available to poor people at this time of crisis. Only 18 out of 50 observers reported that take-home rations were being distributed in anganwadis. The PDS helps, but the distribution of double rations, promised by the government, is erratic: observers reported distribution of double rations in just 15 of the 50 survey blocks. Also, a large number of poor households are still excluded from the PDS.

Among households that have no ration card and have applied for one, very few are receiving 10 kg of foodgrain as promised by the Chief Minister. No effective arrangement has been made for this, other than asking mukhiyas to give 10 kg of foodgrain to needy households using their Rs 10,000 relief fund. The fund is grossly insufficient for this purpose.

In the light of these survey findings, the right to food campaign reiterates all the demands made in its statement of 6 April, including:

· Immediate distribution of double rations needs to be ensured. All excluded households should be covered under the PDS, with regular monthly rations at NFSA levels.

· Dal-bhat kendras at the block and gram panchayat levels should be upgraded and better advertised (e.g. bright painting, large banner, miking) so that they are well utilised.

· Take-home rations, including eggs, should be immediately be distributed in schools and anganwadis to children as well as to pregnant and lactating women.

· The government should immediately put special grievance redress facilities in place, especially for the PDS, so that complaints are addressed swiftly and strict action is taken against corrupt dealers and government officials.

For further information, please contact email at rtfcjharkhand@gmail.com


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