Slum should have their own food security committee: Expert opined in the public hearing

Bhubaneswar : Slum dewelers are deprived of their food and nutritional security in Bhunbanwswar and the Information dissemination on schemes of the Govt. through IEC in the slums is not effective as it is not percolating deep &meaningfully. Building of political affiliations among the ward officials, though common is proving detrimental to the food mission.
Delay at Bbubaneswar Muncipal Corporation ( BMC) is not due to Covid, rather it has become a ploy to create excuses. Essential services such as food provisioning cannot wait for any pandemic to get over. After discussion on all these problems the expert group, in a public hearing organized here have given stress on food security committee at community level in every slums.
The public hearing on Food and Nurtional Security of slum dwellers was organized by CSNR, an NGO, where the slum dwellers of Sikharchandi and Pandakudia participated and said their problems infornt of a Jury committee consisting of expert from various field. The Interactionswere aimed at finding procedural gaps in implementing the food security program,which is hindering its execution to its fullest spirit. Further to reach at an inferential situation where the gap’s connect withthe policies can be explored and understood in the context of the prevailing food insecurity.During the said interfaces and subsequent discussion,cases pertaining to the inadequacies of the schemes and its implications to health, and wellbeingness of the slum dwellers wereobserved.Each individual, whose cases are presented here,had narrated their sufferings in details.
The jury observes with concern, prevalence of complacency despite regular assertion by the govt. that food security has been ensured for the vulnerable. In many instances process for claiming entitlements by the deserving citizens have been unnecessarily lengthened and made cumbersome and in some cases extracting financial favor from the poor claimants by the officials becomes an overriding deterrence. The jury expressed concern over the matter pertaining to denial of entitlement to even the most deserving citizens, particularly the elderlies who have been reduced to the state of destitution already.Further, the ground level workers who are supposed to facilitate inclusion of deserving cases in the food mission are seemingly inert. Some of them are not updating themselves about those inhabitants who are more deserving then the others. It was also observed by the honorable jury that ground level workers are keeping themselves more confined to their own coterie; thereby their direct interaction with the community members remains curtailed.
Considering the plight of the migrating parents, children should be considered at par with the natives while dispensing food, on the contrary, they are asked to produce evidences of their domicile and denied with the pretext that they do not belong to this place. It is equally heartening to note that the migrating families are asked to produce adhaar card of their children.
Jury further noted that, policies governing the food security program should be modified to accommodate food need of the people during emergency situations. Govt. should waive conditions of eligibility to include the affected people.Govt. should also initiate mapping of the vulnerable within the slum. Social and economic disadvantages of the weaker section are becoming reason for their deliberate marginalization. NGO should take this matter into cognizance on priority basic.

The Jury Members have given various recommendations the Government like Information Technology based online applications at the ward level could substantially reduce overload and congestion at the middle tiers. Initial scrutiny at ward office level for establishing domicile could expedite the process.
The jury also opined that the Government should empower departments dealing with essential services to hire more people to expedite the process and support people in the pandemic situations. And Policy instrument governing PDS should develop alternative mechanism to work more effectively during the pandemic, natural or manmade disasters or in state of emergency.
They also stated that a regular transfer and internal mobility of the ward level workers are essential to help them learn and stay connected to the purpose of their engagement.Relief operation if converged with PDS during pandemic situation or similar situations can considerably mitigate the need of the people. They also said that there should be facility for interim food provisioning to the distressed families in cases where the procedural compulsions are taking longer time.
Further recommended that a third party Technical Agency may be engaged to deal specifically with the HR issues of the ground level workers on whom success of the schemes depend. Regular orientation and training is needed to keep them in sync with the mission’s objective. As evident from the cases, ground level scheme implementers are slow in responding to the emerging need. And a help desk at BMC to address the grievance and need of elderlies in special manner is needed urgently. The food mission should raise limit of the entitlement in case the earning member of the household has lost job or is jobless due to disease or prolonged ill health