Jahangirpuri residents to protest against cash in place of food
Upset with the Delhi government’s proposal for doing away with the public distribution system and instead offer cash, the resident welfare association (RWA) of Jahangirpuri and NGOs have decided to hold a meeting with government officials on June 22 at the Jahangirpuri Ramlila ground.
In April this year, the government had started its second pilot project in Jahangirpuri area. The project covered 4,000 households, which would be given Rs 1,000 every month in their bank accounts in lieu of the food grains and kerosene parcelled out under PDS.
“The first pilot project in Raghubir Nagar, which was meant for only 100 families, faced so many hurdles, such as difficulty in getting a bank account and the rise in prices of grains,” said Pushpa of Bhalaswa Lok Shakti Manch, an NGO that claims to have collected signatures of 4,500-odd residents who have agreed to come out in protest on June 22.
“The sum of Rs 1,000 given out for a household of five members in the pilot project, is not enough to purchase ration that can allow 2,200 kilo calories per adult in urban areas. Since 70% of the BPL households have an average size of seven, and not five as assumed by the Delhi government, the sum stipulated under the cash transfer scheme is insufficient to meet the monthly expenditure of a household,” said Manmohan Singh, another activist from the area.
Activists also alleged that the NGO hired by the government for the first pilot project misled the people by not making it clear that the cash was in place of the items secured under PDS.
Last year, the same NGO was part of a survey conducted under the banner of Razi Roti Adhikar Abhiyan-comprising 15-odd NGOs-on 4,000 poor families of Delhi.
According to the survey, the lowest average monthly amount spent on food items by a poor family is Rs 1,202, which is much higher than the proposed cash transfer of Rs 1,000.
“It is not the PDS which is problematic; those who are part of the system are to blame. If the distribution of food grains is not above board, what is the guarantee that the cash transfers would work,” Singh added.