In Kashmir, Covid-19 brings ‘order’ in public distribution system

In Kashmir, Covid-19 brings ‘order’ in public distribution system

Srinagar: Every month, when rice was to be distributed at the ration depot in their locality, dozens of the registered householders would jostle in front of the Munshi Ghat to get their share. In the melee, the ration tickets, which would be piled up on first-come-first-served basis in the morning, would be disarrayed.

Call it a necessity or a blessing in disguise, the prevailing Covid-19 pandemic has by default fixed this mess in Khan Mohalla Sogam in central Kashmir’s Budgam district.

Officials from the Food Civil Supplies and Consumer Affairs (FCS &CA) Department on Thursday went door to door issuing ration slips to the households. The normally furious people cooperated fully for their own safety. And, ration tickets are not even required to be stacked up now.

This is not just happening in one locality. Since the spike in the number of Covid-19 cases in the valley, authorities have switched to a mode of door-step distribution of essential commodities, especially rice and cooking gas, in J&K to prevent gatherings.

Mohammad Shafi, a resident of Budgam district, told Kashmir Reader that the novel system of public distribution has done away with the thronging of people at the depots.

“This has also come as a relief to the PDS employees,” Shafi added.

As per Mohammad Aslam, another resident from the district, the locals in his village, Nowhar, have maintained appropriate distance on the ration distribution day out of the fear of virus infection.

The usual crowds of people for the collection of LPG cylinders, too, have gone since the pandemic, Aslam said.

“In fact, the distributors do not allow more than one consumer for a refill,” he said.

Nazir Ahmad, a youth from Srinagar’s Soura area, said the district administration could “rediscover” itself amid the Covid-19 pandemic. Nazir said that the authorities were yet to distribute rice at the local depot but officials had asked people beforehand to collect the ration one household at a time.

“The initiative (doorstep distribution of essentials) has brought order and discipline in daily activities as there is no unnecessary thronging,” he said.

Nazir said that the pandemic had inadvertently made the administration realise “that they there’s a way to deliver essentials at people’s doorsteps”.

The new mode of public distribution system, he said, could also help in doing away with panic buying and unnecessary hoarding by traders in times of crisis.

On Sunday afternoon, the district administration Srinagar wrote on its Twitter handle that it had distributed foodgrains to over 85, 000 households and LPG refills to around 45 thousand, covering 22 of the 34 zones “all at their doorsteps” in the opening week of the initiative.

The administration said that essentials in rest of the zones will be distributed soon.

Residents of Karan Nagar area in Srinagar, one of the localities where the rice distribution is pending, are also expected to get their ration “in orderly manner”, said Faisal, a resident of the area.

Faisal also pointed at other “positives”, such as “people lined up at medical shops and ATMs in order without any fuss.”

Nazir the youth from Soura, said the pandemic had brought “civic sense and hygiene into people’s lives.”

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