Over the three weeks since the lockdown came into place, Gurgaon residents and corporates have come together to provide food to over 1 lakh people every day with contributions coming in in the form of cash, raw ration and cooked food.
Nodal officer for food distribution in the city, Vivek Kalia, said: “We have formed 35 teams that provide cooked meals to over 1.25 lakh people each day. Apart from this, dry ration is provided in areas that aren’t feasible to visit every day. The meals are coming from big corporates, restaurants, RWAs, village sarpanchs and individuals who have risen to the occasion. While some have contributed ration, others have adopted entire clusters to provide food. In a way, the long-standing gap between Old and New Gurgaon has been bridged through this effort.”
Among those who have adopted a settlement is Sispal Vihar resident Colonel K J Singh, who has been supplying cooked food to a slum near South City II that houses over 200 families, most of whom are Bengali migrants.
“When the lockdown was enforced, and we heard of the condition of people who were stranded, my daughter Rakul Preet, who is an actor in Mumbai, felt we should help in some way. We initially made a few food packets and went to Sohna Road, distributing them to people who were walking to their hometowns. But the exodus stopped in a day or two as the administration geared up,”said Colonel Singh.
This was when he approached the administration and received the suggestion of adopting a slum cluster. Ever since, Colonel Singh has been paying staff at his society’s club, which closed down during the lockdown, to prepare cooked meals for the slum’s residents. He then delivers the food twice a day. While one meal comprises rice and pulses, or “khichdi with some turmeric and other spices”, the other is usually rice and a vegetable gravy.
According to the district administration officials, among the corporates providing meals is DLF Foundation. Officials from the company said they are providing cooked meals to over 60,000 migrant labourers in Gurgaon and Manesar, coordinating with Akshaya Patra for the purpose. The company is also distributing dry ration packs to over 15,000 families.
Another resident working with the administration to provide meals is Harinder Singh, a resident of Arallias, a gated condominium in DLF5. Along with eight-ten other residents, he formed a group called “Kartavya”, which has been providing 2,000 meals per day. While the members have made contributions, others have volunteered for procurement, packing and transporting the food.
“We were initially providing dry ration, but then tied up with the community kitchen of the South City Gurdwara, which also had their own ready-meal packs. We have now set up a system where they prepare 2,000 meals a day, fully packed, and we provide the ration,” said Singh, who has been involved in the work since March 27.
“We give whatever we prepare to the designated nodal officer, who tells us which areas the demand has come from. This ensures there is no duplication in distribution. We go with them to distribute the food on some occasions,” he said.
“Duplication,” officials said, is one of their biggest concerns when it comes to distribution of food. “We are only concerned that people should come on a single platform so that there is no duplication. Often we find that a cluster has already been adopted but another person goes directly and distributes as well. This leads to overstocking. If people come to a single platform, coordination will be better and we can provide for more people,” said Kalia.
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