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Activists urge govt to help needy during lockdown, supply free ration

NEW DELHI: A group of 53 eminent persons has written to the state governments and the Centre urging them to supply free ration to people in need amid the lockdown resulting out of the coronavirus pandemic. “Supply free ration along with cooking oil, pulses, salt, masala and soap for a period of three months (April, May, June) in advance to all those covered under NFSA,” the letter endorsed by the activists states. Some of the persons endorsing the letter include activists Nikhil Dey, Yogendra Yadav, Anjali Bhardwaj and Harsh Mander.

The letter also urges the authorities to provide cooked meals twice a day until the end of May. “This can be made available at the kitchens used for midday meals or as part of peoples’ kitchen schemes in different states,” the letter states. They also call for the advance payment of pension of three months on April 1. “We propose an emergency relief package programme for each poor household. The package is Rs 7,000 per household per month for the months of April and May. The total amount required for this one-time emergency relief is about Rs 3.75 lakh crore,” the letter states.

Dalit organisations have also appealed to the Centre and state to step up supplies of essential items and welfare measures for sanitation workers — a large number of whom are Dalits. The National Dalit Watch-National Campaign on Dalit Human Rights along with several other Dalit organisations in a letter to PM Narendra Modi appealed that all preventive measures and actions are ‘equitable, inclusive, non-discriminatory, and dignified’.