Lockdown hits urban low-income group hard
They demand food friendly programme
Published : Friday, 27 March, 2020 at 12:00 AM Count : 244
Amidst informal lockdown imposed by the government to limit Coronavirus outbreak, most people of lower income group have become workless. The people who live hand to mouth across the country have been passing a hard time.
In this situation, the low-income group people have demanded to the government to introduce a food friendly programme in the urban areas considering their hardship due to financial crisis.
The government has already started food friendly programme to provide rice at Tk 10 per kg among 50 lakh cardholders living in rural areas under the food friendly programme.
The street vendors, rickshawpullers, CNG and van drivers, street tea vendors and hawkers have been asked to stay at home to avoid possible attack of Coronavirus infection.
As a result, the low level earners have been facing severe financial crisis as they have no job at the moment. Besides, most of them are running their businesses taking loan from various NGOs.
As per government decision, people living in urban areas have been asked to stay at home and all the offices and educational institutions have been locked down due to Coronavirus.
"I used to earn Tk 500 to Tk 700 daily after paying Tk 300 as rent for my rickshaw. Now, I am passing my days sitting idle as there are a few passengers on the street. Besides, we are also afraid to go out for fear of the of deadly coronavirus," a rickshawpuller of Mirpur-10 Shukur Ali, also a father of five children, told this correspondent.
"Tk 3,000 has to be paid as house rent every month and he has no other opening to earn money except pulling a rickshaw," he said adding that the government's food friendly programme in urban areas like the rural areas can help them at this trying time.
A CNG run auto-rickshaw driver Md Habib of Cantonment area said that he has to pay Tk 5,000 every week as installment for a loan taken from an NGO.
"There are four members in my family. I have stopped driving my CNG run auto rickshaw due to fear of Coronavirus. We are passing very tough days and don't know what will happen in the days to come. We need government's assistance to survive," he said in reply to a query.
He said the government has many programes for the rural poor people. It can be introduced for the people of urban areas to provide supports to the urban poor.
"We are giving rice at Tk 10 per kg among 50 lakh cardholders in rural areas under food friendly programme. The government can take any decision on any purposes and we just implement it," Food Secretary Dr Mosammat Nazmanara Khanum told The Daily Observer on Thursday.
When asked regarding introduction of food friendly programme in urban areas, she replied, "It's true that many poor people have been living in urban areas, but food friendly programme has been taken only for the rural people."
"Only high ups of the government can take such decision to introduce such programme in the urban areas," she said, adding, "At this moment, we have no such plan to initiate such a programme."
She, however, mentioned that they have already introduced open market sale (OMS) for the urban people in fixed prices. Under the programme, the poor people can buy rice at Tk 30 per kg.
Director General of Directorate General of Food Sarwar Mahmud told this correspondent that selling rice at Tk 10 per kg has been started from this month and will continue till April.
"There is a committee and we just implement their decision. If they decide to reduce rice prices, we will go for action," he said while replying to a query on price reduction of OMS rice. The consumers are not interested to buy coarse rice at Tk 30 per kg from OMS trucks.