On Monday, April 6, a public interest litigation (PIL) was filed urging the Telangana High Court to immediately take up the matter of lakhs of pending national food security (ration) cards applications with the state government by an NGO, Council for Citizen Rights. Amid the ongoing lockdown to contain the COVID-19 pandemic, the PIL stated that lakhs of below poverty line (BPL) families are at a disadvantage for not possessing their rightful ration cards which is stopping them from receiving food supply and other benefits being provided by the government.
According to the petition, around 9 lakh ration card applications (consisting of nearly 25 lakh people) are pending at various departments of the state government since the last five years. The NGO sought the court to direct the government to immediately complete the approval process of the ration cards so that the suffering BPL families are able to avail the COVID-19 state and central government relief schemes.
Furthermore, the PIL sought to compensate the lost ration and monetary benefits to the families and take action against the authorities for delaying the application process.
As per the state government’s specified norms, eligible people need to get their ration cards within 30 days of application.
“For the last 13 months, members of Council for Citizen Rights have been giving representations to district level authorities highlighting the issue of pending ration cards. It is these BPL families who are suffering the most during the lockdown and they are not even able to avail basic food supply due to lack of ration cards,” Raju Thota, representative of the NGO told NewsClick.
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On April 1, the Telangana Rashtra Samithi led Telangana government launched free distribution of 12 kg foodgrains per person among 87.54 lakh white ration card holders. The government has also promised to disburse Rs 1,500 per person to all ration card holders.
“The state government should immediately disburse food supply to those families whose cards are pending during this lockdown to prevent hunger deaths,” Raju added.
Unpaid Salaries to Migrant workers
Meanwhile, in Mancherial district, several activists have written to the district collector alleging that one company Madhucon Road Project Company has not paid salaries to migrant workers for the last four months. Speaking to NewsClick, social activist Meera Sangamitra said, “Around 70 poor migrant workers from various districts of Bihar like Chhapra, Ara, Buxar etc. and few from Uttar Pradesh, who have been engaged by Madhucon Company for working in the Jaipur Project, NH-63 (Nizamabad – Jagdalpur road) have not received their payments for the past four months.” She added that the Labour Department and the district administration should immediately look into the matter and ensure that the salaries to the workers are paid.
“There are numerous industries and brick kilns across districts where hundreds of migrant workers have not received their salaries,” she added, highlighting the gravity of the issue.
Also read: Farmers From Telugu States Concerned Over Rabi Crop Procurement Amid COVID-19 Lockdown