New Delhi: With heavy rains lashing the coastal areas of Odisha amidst the pandemic, many poor people have been left scrambling for shelter and food.
The Indian Express reported that an old woman along with her three grandchildren, all below the aged of five, were rescued and later rehabilitated as they took shelter in one of the toilets constructed under the Central government’s Swachh bharat Abhiyaan.
The case was reported from Baisana village in Kishorenagar taluka of Odisha’s Angul district. The woman, speaking to Indian Express said: “I don’t own land, I live wherever I find space. But I am ageing and I cannot keep doing that. Now I also have three children (with me). After the rainfall this season, the mud house was damaged. The toilets were recently constructed and no one was using them. So I moved in along with the kids. We cooked in the open and the kids slept inside when it rained at night. We had nowhere else to go.”
The instance is not the lone case in the state. There have been reports of many who do not own pucca houses left shelterless and taking refuge wherever they can.
Speaking with NewsClick, Sanjeev, an activist working with AIDEN, a social welfare organisation, said: “The state had told those living in coastal areas to vacate their houses. It is still raining heavily in the state and rescue operations are on. However, those who do not own property are being forced to stay out in the open amidst the lashing rains and no shelter. People living in outer areas of Gajapati, Godh and others are facing the brunt of being poor and have been left in the lurch without any shelter. Crops also stand destroyed and there is no food security.”
The pandemic has been adding to difficulties, as food availability is another big problem. Unable to provide the people with free foodgrains under the National Food Security Act (NFSA), over 30 lakh people are reportedly still not covered by the scheme as they do not hold ration cards.
Earlier this month, a 50-year-old daily wager was found living in a toilet in Jharsuguda district after his kutcha house was damaged due to rain. He, too, did not get ration as his Aadhaar card was not linked to his NFSA card. While the state claims to have initiated enrolment drives to ensure food security, activists on the ground state that the number and scale of people remaining out of the coverage of the scheme is unprecedented.
Read More: COVID-19: Close to 20,000 People Forcefully Evicted from their Homes During the Lockdown