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Social distancing to be followed during ration distribution


Press Trust of India Ahmedabad
Social distancing, a key tool

in arresting the spread of coronavirus, will be strictly followed when the Gujarat government starts distributing free ration through fair price shops from Wednesday as part of steps to provide relief to people during the ongoing lockdown.
Fair price shopkeepers will call people in small groups and committees formed for the purpose will ensure social distancing norms are followed when around half of the state's population is distributed free ration through around 17,000 outlets, a top official said on Tuesday.
The government will provide free food grains, sugar and salt to around half of the state's population - Antyodaya and Priority Household ration-card holders - a measure that will cover around 65 lakh families.
Around 17,000 government-approved fair price shops in the state will use phone database of these beneficiaries to call them in a group of 25 in order to avoid rush, said Ashwani Kumar, Secretary to the Chief Minister.
A committee of four and five members in each village and urban centre, respectively, comprising teachers, policemen and social workers, has been formed to oversee the distribution, he said.
These committees will ensure social distancing norms are strictly followed when food items are distributed to the poor people, most affected by the 21-day-long lockdown implemented to stem the spread of COVID-19, Kumar said.
The Gujarat government has made arrangements for distribution of free-of-cost ration to 3.25 crore people starting April 1.
Priority and Antyodaya ration-card holders will get free ration, including 3.5 kg wheat, 1.5 kg rice (each person), and 1 kg each of sugar, salt and pulses (each family), he said.
Food items will be distributed in April to provide support to poor families hit by the lockdown, Kumar said.
"Around 17,000 government-approved fair price shops will provide wheat, rice, sugar, salt and pulses to 3.25 crore people from 65 lakh poor families free of cost starting Wednesday.
"Shopkeepers have been asked to follow the social distancing norm in order to ensure safety of people," he said.
Fair price shops will use phone database to call 25 beneficiaries at one go in order to avoid rush and crowding at shops.
"Committees formed in villages and urban centres will also ensure that social distancing norms are followed on these fair price shops," he said.
Migrant labourers from other states as well as those from rural areas of Gujarat will also be provided free ration from fair price shops on the basis of lists prepared by district administrations so as to contain their movement.
They will be provided supplies starting April 4, under the state government's 'Ann Brahm Yojana', Kumar said.
A sum of Rs 40 crore has been allocated to set up shelter homes where migrant labourers will also be distributed free food in order to check their exodus from Gujarat, he said.
Under the yojana, food items will be provided to migrant labourers who are not ration-card holders in Gujarat, he said.

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First Published: Mar 31 2020 | 8:28 PM IST

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