Covid-19 Relief work update (21,22 & 23rd April)
Last three days including today were the same as usual except for one thing. The quantity of distribution has almost doubled on a daily basis. To give you an idea, we use Paytm to pay in the two stores and could not pay because there is a limit of Rs. 1 lakh in 24 hours. So, we paid one of them today instead of yesterday. Approximate expenditure per day as of now is close to Rs. 80K a day – and we hardly visit the same families twice. We spend about Rs. 230 per family per week – 5 kg rice and 1 kg dal. Yes, there were suggestions for more quantity, and for oil, potatoes, spices, and other items. But we have very few volunteers who are willing to go the field and work – go out and purchase, make kits, then go and distribute. So,we do what we can. As of now it is 200 coupons and another direct distribution of 15 bags of rice each bag having 25 kg, and 3 bags of toor dal (25 kg each). Sometimes we give half litre cooking oil – it is greatly in demand. We also continue to distribute rations physically to locations which are far from the 2 traders we have tied up with.
But the problem is becoming bigger. We had so far avoided going to ‘pucca’ houses which seemed somewhat clean and not so cramped. But today we discovered that there are thousands of people – nearly all migrants – similar 5 or more to a small room without rations, job, money. Here and there they get one ‘meal’ a day which is cooked pulav (rice) and nothing else. Another volunteer has taken up the job of distributing milk. Today we found literally hundreds of small kids below 5. We gave 5 coupons of half litre to the mothers of these kids. They get one packet a day from a nearby store. All this is in Bangalore. Today, April 23 rd , we distributed 100 coupons, found it was not enough, went back to the store, got another 100 and distributed that, and found it was not enough. We will go again tomorrow morning for those left out. People continue to request or even beg for rations. Today we went again in the afternoon to distribute rations directly to those who are not near the stores and so can’t use the coupons.
In the near future the looming problem seems to be: more and more people running out of their meagre savings and not having food. Earlier it was those in tarpaulin shacks and sheds – ‘unskilled’ daily wagers. Now those in pucca houses, 5 to a room, paying between Rs.3000 and Rs.5000 per month as rent (or per head about a thousand or less) are now without anything. These are not ‘unskilled workers’ only on daily wages, but also painters, cooks, tailors, masons, cleaners in Institutions like schools and colleges, garment factory workers (mostly young women migrants), vegetable vendors
(a few are now functioning), housemaids etc.
Government distribution has many gaps – especially as Bangalore is full of migrants. Apparently, those with voter ids are given preference though as per rules all are supposed to get rations. In some places they do get something – but there are huge gaps.
We saw a second local businessman (not the IT savvy ones, but the more traditional ones) stepping forward yesterday. He and his friends stood at one location, and people lined up to receive rations. But, in general we hardly saw any other group distributing food rations in the last 4 weeks we have been going out daily. We would gladly exchange funds for
volunteers now. But please keep the donations coming.
A personal touch: Jaibheem works with us as a salesman. It turned out he lives in one these ‘colonies’ of migrants. His father is a daily worker, and his mother a maidservant. So, it was nice to see where he lived – rather not so nice to see how he lived. He has now joined us enthusiastically as a volunteer, and he knows how to drive all types of vehicles. Other team members continue to work with dedication.
Beyond Bangalore: APPI is supporting our work with the Primitive Vulnerable tribal Group (PTVG) in Utnoor, Adilabad. The work is going on there steadily. Thanks once again. Anyone interested in contributing, can send in their donations to the following: Name: Centre for Collective Development Bank: SBI IIM Bangalore Branch A/c No: 54019812310 IFSC: SBIN0040803 Please email email@example.com giving your name, PAN number, address and amount contributed. We will be happy to send you the 80G receipt so that you can avail a tax benefit.