Uttar Pradesh will distribute free food rations to migrant workers and their families who returned to the state in the midst of the coronavirus shutdown, state government announced Sunday evening, each person receiving 3 kg of wheat and 2 kg of rice.
To facilitate the distribution of these rations, which will start from Monday morning, the state has announced that it will identify all returning migrant workers and provide them with temporary ration cards; nine lakh such cards have already been made during lockdown.
The rations will be provided as part of the “Aatmanirbhar Bharat (Autonomous India) “, under which the provision of free food grains – 5 kg of rice per person and 1 kg of chickpeas per family – was to be extended to those who do not hold PDS (public distribution system) cards during two months. .
Uttar Pradesh, which has nearly 7,500 confirmed cases of COVID-19, including 201 deaths, has not been hit as hard by the pandemic as some other states; the neighboring city of Delhi, for example, has reported nearly 20,000 cases.
However, with the return of hundreds of thousands of migrants – more than 20 lakh returned in the past two months – the government of Yogi Adityanath is faced with the challenge of feeding them.
On paper, the UP government has said it is ready to take up this challenge.
Earlier this month, he said that 6.94 metric tons of lakhs had been distributed among 13.88 crores (more than half of the state’s population); this translates to five kilograms of rice per person. This is in addition to subsidized food grains.
The government also reported that 8.66 lakh of new ration cards had been distributed in the past two months, including those for recently returned migrant workers.
However, migrant workers returning to remote parts of the state, such as the districts of Sonbhadra, Gonda and Deoria, say they are still struggling to obtain ration cards.
Food distribution officials in Sonbhadra have admitted that there is a gap between those who request ration cards and those who obtain them.
The UP government also released guidelines on relaxing the lock on Sunday, a day after the center extended the national closure of the coronavirus until June 30.
Among other easings, weekly markets in rural areas will be allowed to reopen, as long as social distancing is practiced and all other precautionary measures are observed.