Provide Free Rations, Demand Maharashtra People’s Movements

People’s Movements of Maharashtra have reiterated their demand to universalize the public distribution system (PDS) that makes essential food grains available at subsidized rates, and also demanded that relief rations in the time of the COVID-19 crisis be provided FREE and unconditionally, without requirement of ration card or proof of purchase of regular ration quota.

This is imperative as millions of daily-wage workers unable to earn income during lockdown do not have the means to purchase rations even at the most subsidized rate.

Seema Kulkarni of Mahila Kisan Adhikar Manch, a network of women farmers, explained why:

A number of movements in Maharashtra sent the following letter to the Chief Minister:

Sri Uddhav Thackeray
Chief Minister of Maharashtra,
Mantralaya, Mumbai 400032.
Subject:  In light of the COVID -19 do away with cut of income criteria, universalize the PDS and  provide free ration to all
As per the GR dated 17 December 2013, Government of Maharashtra came up with adhoc criteria for selecting beneficiaries for Priority Households under NFSA Act 2013.  Accordingly, all BPL Card holders were taken under Priority House Holds (PHH). However, to APL card holders who were also getting ration, an adhoc  annual income criteria of  Rs. 44000 (rural areas) and Rs 59000 ( urban areas)  was imposed as a result of which about 1.77 crores people belonging to the APL category were pushed out of the public distribution system.  Further, the inclusion of beneficiaries under the BPL and Antodaya category were done as per the list decided in 1995 as no fresh survey was done. The number of beneficiaries, therefore, are grossly underestimated.
The criteria of Rs 59,000 annual income cut off for ration eligibility is a cruel irony given the high cost of living in Mumbai. Monthly housing rentals in slums are approximately Rs. 5000 per month and then there are additional costs related to transportation and other essential services. The current Covid-19 crisis and subsequent lockdown have now crippled the livelihood of the poor  pushing them to the brink of starvation.
In the light of the above, we members of various organizations and movements  working  with the urban poor in Mumbai/ Maharashtra and on the right to food, make the following demands:
Government of Maharashtra expand and universalise the Public Distribution System and provide 10 kgs of universal and free ration to all.
Given the current crisis situation, Government of Maharashtra ensures that regular quota of food grains are made immediately available at ration shops across the state and the Mumbai Metropolitan Region. As experiences at the ground tell us that ration  shops continue to remain closed in many parts of the region and where open grains are in short supply or only certain grains are available
We also demand that as emergency relief provide ration to all other poor and migrant workers who do not possess ration card
In the long run do away with such criteria and adopt social criteria based on SECC data just like others states like Tamil Nadu and Chhattisgarh and Bihar have done.
Looking forward to a prompt and affirmative action
Mukta Srivastava – Anna Adhikar Abhiyan, Maharashtra
Brinelle D’souza, Kamayani Bali Mahabal and Avinash Kadam– Jan Swasthya Abhiyan- Mumbai
Anita Dhole,  Bilal Khan, Jamila Begum – Ghar Bachao Ghar Banao Andolan
Shweta Damle – Habitat and Livelihood Welfare Association,
Lara Jesani – People’s Union for Civil Liberties, Maharashtra
Sujata Gothoskar – Forum against Oppression of Women
Sr. Meena Goda -Justice Coalition of Religious – Maharashtra


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