84.26 lakh people have been provided meals across the country during the lockdown, of which nearly 37% people were fed by NGOs. In Gujarat, NGOs fed 93% of the people who were provided meals, while in Andhra the figure was 92%.
Non-governmental organisations (NGOs) in 13 states and Union Territories provided meals to more people than what their respective state governments did during the nationwide lockdown that started on March 25 in the wake of the rapidly spreading novel coronavirus pandemic. According to a reply submitted by the central government in the Supreme Court on Tuesday, a total of 84,26,509 people were provided meals across the country during the lockdown, which is set to end next week. Of these, 54.15 lakh people were fed by state governments while the remaining 30.11 lakh were fed by NGOs.
An analysis of the state-wise data presented by the Centre shows that in 13 states and UTs, NGOs outperformed state governments in providing humanitarian relief in the form of free meals. Most of these meals were provided to stranded migrant labourers and the poor who have been hit the worst owing to loss of income during the lockdown.
In Kerala and Telangana, all meals were exclusively provided by NGOs during the lockdown, the Centre’s data show, while in states such as Gujarat, Andhra Pradesh and Mizoram, NGOs provided 92.8 per cent, 91.7 per cent and 88.5 per cent of all the meals, respectively. (Kerala govt’s own data however shows a different picture. Read footnote for details.)
Overall, there were nine states and UTs where NGOs fed more than 75 per cent of the people who were provided meals during the lockdown.
However, in states/UTs such as Delhi, Haryana, and Tamil Nadu, among others, the state governments had a larger share in providing meals.
NOT JUST FOOD, NGOs ARE ALSO SHELTERING PEOPLE
Apart from providing meals to the needy, NGOs across the country also opened relief or shelter homes for people to take refuge. The analysis of the central government’s reply shows that 10.37 lakh people in India took refuge in shelter homes provided by state governments and NGOs. Of these 10.37 lakh, or 39.14 per cent, are staying in camps set up by NGOs.
Maharashtra is one of the best examples of how NGOs are contributing in sheltering people hit by the lockdown. Of the 4.47 lakh people who are in relief or shelter homes in the state, 83.56 per cent are in camps set up by NGOs. In Meghalaya, this figure is 95 per cent.
Overall, there are six states where NGOs provided shelter to more than 40 per cent of the people in shelter or relief camps. Apart from Meghalaya and Maharashtra, the list includes Haryana (41.7 per cent), Andhra Pradesh (41 per cent) and Punjab (40 per cent).
HARYANA, DELHI GOVTS LEAD IN FEEDING PEOPLE; KERALA IN SHELTERING THEM
Looking at the overall performance of state governments vis-à-vis performance of NGOs, we find that the governments in Haryana and Delhi were the most proactive in providing meals to people.
Of the 54.15lakh people who were fed by state governments in India, 34.70 lakh were fed by the state governments of Haryana and Delhi. Uttar Pradesh fed 6.84 lakh people, Uttarakhand 2.64 lakh and Punjab 1.94 lakh.
With regards to providing shelter, the Kerala government was the most active and sheltered 3.03 lakh people. This is nearly 50 per cent of all people who have taken shelter in government camps across India.
As per the government reply in the Supreme Court, there are 22,567 government relief/shelter camps that have been set across the country. Of these, the Kerala government has alone set up 15,541 camps–69.86 per cent of all goverment camps. It is followed by Uttar Pradesh (2,230 camps) and Maharashtra (1,135 camps).
GOVT ALLOWS NGOs TO BUY FOODGRAIN FROM FCI
Meanwhile, on a positive note, the central government on Wednesday announced that in order to ensure NGOs and charitable organisation have uninterrupted supply of foodgrain, the Food Corporation of India (FCI) has been directed to provide wheat and rice to these organisations at the open market sale rates (OMSS) without going through the e-auction process.
In a press release, the government said, “NGOs and charitable organisations are playing an important role in providing cooked food to thousands of poor and needy people during this time of nationwide lockdown.”
Prior to Wednesday’s order, only state governments and registered bulk users were allowed to buy stock from FCI at OMSS rates.
“These organisations can purchase 1 to 10 MT (metric tonne) at a time from FCI at the predetermined reserve prices. FCI has a network of more than 2,000 godowns in the country and such large network of godowns will ensure smooth supply of food grains to these organisations in this hour of crisis,” the release said.
In contrast to the data submitted by the central government in its reply before the Supreme Court, the Kerala government’s data show that as on April 9, there were a total of 1,251 community kitchens and 255 budget hotels that were functioning in the state. According to the Chief Minister’s Office, a total of 20,37,340 people have been provided free food in the state.
On April 10, Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan in a tweet said, 28,08,650 individuals have been served in the 1,251 community kitchens set up in the state.