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Nellore: Ration distribution may add to Covid spread

A crowded ration shop in the city limits
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A crowded ration shop in the city limits

Highlights

  • No precautionary measures like social distancing and sanitisers are being observed at ration shops
  • Dealers say they have not received their commission from the govt for months, hence they can't provide sanitisers to cardholders who have to give their biometrics to get ration

Nellore: With no adequate precautions in distribution of ration to beneficiaries, fears are being expressed that the process could add to the already high number of Covid-19 cases in the district.

Crowding of beneficiaries at ration shops, no provision of sanitisers at the outlets, and mandatory biometrics are likely to increase Covid cases.

Ration dealers say they can't spend on sanitisers from the meagre income they get from the distribution and their pleas to the government for supply of sanitisers have fallen on deaf ears.

The state government is providing ration twice a month to the poor. Officials who followed stringent precautionary measures initially during the April and May to prevent spread of virus at ration shops, have become lax, say dealers.

The dealers argue that the government is yet to clear their commission of 3-4 months, coming to around Rs 4 crore, and in these tough times, bearing costs of sanitisers to hundreds of cardholders is impossible for them.

The dealers have now confined to their self-protection leaving cardholders to their fate.. There are around 1,900 dealers in the district. Some are disbursing ration to only 50 cardholders a day to maintain social distancing. But in some villages, it is not being implemented due to pressure from local leaders and also to complete the task within the time. They want the stocks to be cleared fast keeping the needs of the people in view.

Frequent server problems too are adding to their woes. "In fact, if the servers are fast, we can finish the work within 4-5 hours. But most of the time they go sluggish, making it a nightmarish experience for processing the transaction. We cannot control the cardholders who wait outside the shop for ration. In such circumstances, it is hard to maintain social distance for hours and there is a possibility of infection," said a dealer from Kovur mandal.

Initially, local volunteers and village secretariat staff controlled the rush at the ration shops and used to direct the dealers' daily target and distribution. It is not the case now since they are being deputed to other Covid duties.

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