AFTER SENDING nearly 5.45 lakh people out of Punjab, the state government implemented the Atmanirbhar scheme in Ludhiana district on Saturday. Under this central government scheme, 14 lakh migrants and other Punjab residents who don’t have smart ration cards will be provided two months’ ration.
Majority of the beneficiaries would be migrants who had registered through the Punjab government portal to leave for their native states, but are still here.
Ration distribution was started in Guru Nanak Bhawan on Saturday afternoon when 7 Shramik trains had been sent in which 11,200 peopled had boarded for UP, Bihar, M.P and Jharkhand. “From June 1, special trains are also starting all over India for which reservation had already started. Hence from now on, Shramik trains from Ludhiana will run based on need or demand by people,” said Akhil Chaudhary, Deputy Commissioner of Police (Headquarters).
Deputy Commissioner Pardeep Agarwal said, “We have almost exhausted all our data for many states who had registered with us. Now trains for West Bengal will be started from the first week of June. If there is more demand, we will demand more trains. At the same time, we will put up a permanent counter where people can demand for trains. As per demand, further trains may be arranged.”
So far, 18 lakh people have registered themselves for moving out of Punjab, of which 5.45 lakh moved out. Of these, 4.91 lakh went via 382 Shramik special trains. More than Rs 26 crore was spent on train tickets alone by the Punjab government.
From Ludhiana, 203 trains were sent till Saturday night. Hence, after sending 203 trains from Ludhiana, carrying over 3 lakh migrants to their home states, the Atmanirbhar scheme was launched by Mamta Aashu, Congress councillor and wife of Punjab Food and Civil Supplies Minister Bharat Bhushan Aashu. “Of 14 lakh beneficiaries, 5.86 lakh are from Ludhiana alone as our district has the maximum population of migrants. This ration is being distributed to help those migrants who don’t have any ration card here and are in need of food. Though a number of them have already gone, I hope that the rest will stay back and work here only now,” said Mamta.
All those who had registered on the portal to go out of Punjab have been tracked by the Punjab government and the ones who are still here are being contacted so as to provide them ration. Ration packets of 10 kg wheat flour, 2 kg dal and 2 kg sugar per person were given to migrants called at the function. This ration is meant for 2 months to be given to each family member.
After Ludhiana, 1.1 lakh migrants will be covered under this scheme from Jalandhar, as well as 1.06 lakh in Mohali. Nawanshahr has the least number of beneficiaries under this scheme — 12,434 — while Faridkot has 15,329 beneficiaries.
Industrialists have also been asked to take details from the administration to ensure their workers benefit from this scheme. On Saturday, a webinar was also organised by members of the Chamber of Industrial and Commercial Undertakings for their members so as to tell them about the new scheme and help their workers get the benefit out of it.
However, a question mark has been raised as to why this scheme was not introduced earlier when labour had started walking.
“After sending lakhs, now ration is being distributed. It should have been done earlier,” said Ranjit Kumar, a migrant worker who stays in Ludhiana but hails from Bihar but decided to stay back here looking at quarantine rules in every state.
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