After sending nearly three lakh migrants to their home states, Punjab government is now ready to implement the Atmanirbhar scheme for 14 lakh migrants, who are the ones not covered under the National Food Security Act (NFSA). Punjab residents who are not covered under NFSA will also be covered under this scheme.
While 17.7 lakh migrants had registered on the government portal to go back home and three lakh have left via trains and over a lakh via buses and many others on foot or private vehicles, the remaining around 14 lakh will get 2 months of free ration under the scheme. A notification in this connection has been received by all DCs as on May 20.
“As per Centre’s announcement, they will be getting 10 kg wheat per person and 2 kg chana dal per family — supply meant for 2 months which will be given at one go. But we have decided to give them grounded wheat flour instead of whole wheat and instead of 2 kg chana dal per family, we will be giving them 1 kg dal per person. One kg sugar per family has been added from our side,” said Anindita Mitra, Director Food and Civil Supplies Department, Punjab.
Punjab Food and Civil Supplies Minister Bharat Bhushan Ashu said,”We will start distribution from May 27 from Jalandhar, Ludhiana and Sangrur. Though we had distributed 15 lakh ration packets last month as well, but we believe that this fresh supply will make many of them (migrants) stay back.”
The authorities are firming up the list of beneficiaries and locating them as a few are now in shelter houses made by district administrations while they wait to be transported home.
Mitra added, “We have 1.41 crore smart card holders out of which 64 per cent of them have already got wheat and dal as per their entitlement under PDS, while 14 lakh stranded migrants or persons who are not covered under NFSA will be provided wheat flour, dal and sugar for free for 2 months time period.”
Already 14,144 MT wheat and 692.21 MT pulses have been earmarked for Atmanirbhar scheme by Food and Civil Supplies Department of Punjab. Apart from this, Punjab government has also announced that that they will be distributing 14 lakh dry ration packets to urban poor as well. Last month, they had distributed 15 lakh dry ration packets as per their records.
The government is also hoping that free ration for 2 months and the opening of workplaces will make migrants stay back. So far, over 60 per cent of factories of Punjab have opened up as per records of Punjab government in which over 55 per cent workers have been engaged. In addition to this, even shops have also opened and so is the case with construction work. Ludhiana DC Pardeep Agarwal said, “We have made arrangements in shelter houses for the stranded migrants who are waiting for their trains and even who have no place to live as of now.. Good number of people have been sent back. Those who are here will be provided ration under Atmanirbhar scheme soon.”
Amit Gupta, SDM, Ferozepur, said, “We counselled a group of migrants last week when we found them walking on road. They were sent to shelter houses and later to their home states via trains. Now, no one is walking from our district to go to their home state. A number of them have also engaged in rural activities as well.”
DC Muktsar Kumar Aravinda: “All SDMs, DSPs have been informed. Nakka point patrolling vehicles and special duty magistrates were formed to keep vigil on any movement of migrants by walk or by cycle. We have kept 3 locations, one for every subdivision, as a temporary shelter home to make them rest before arrangement through train or by bus is made for their native states. Advice is given to deal with them compassionately. Government’s orders will be followed strictly. Under Atmanirbhar scheme, already directions have been given to labour inspector, SDMs, industry department to identify labour who got stranded and are in need of ration. Parallel arrangement is being made to provide them ration through Food and Civil Supplies Department.”
Though a number of them are still determined to go back, many have also changed their mind.
Surinder Kumar, who hails from Gazipur district of UP, said, “I have a small general store in Sherpur area of Ludhiana while my brother sells vegetables and lives in Durgapuri area of Ludhiana. Another brother lives in Mumbai and is a construction worker. We all had registered ourselves to go back, but now we all are staying back with our families. At one time, we had panicked as shops were closed and we did not get support of ration. But now, life is returning back to normal, though general store sale is hardly anything, but a hope is there that I will earn something. Back in the village, there is no source of income. If we get some ration, it can be of a great help.”
Jitender Kumar, another resident of Dhandari, said, “Still many want to go back. But those who have some financial support are staying put.”
📣 The Indian Express is now on Telegram. Click here to join our channel (@indianexpress) and stay updated with the latest headlines