Foodgrain being distributed under various schemes and sufficient stock to last up to October, court told
The Lakshadweep administration on Thursday informed the Kerala High Court that there had been no starvation on the Lakshadweep islands as sufficient quantities of food are being distributed to the islanders under various Central schemes.
When a public interest litigation alleging starvation on the islands came up, Counsel for the Lakshadweep administration S. Manu submitted that ration articles were being distributed to the islanders thorough 39 ration shops on the islands. Every island had ration shops every 1.5 km. In fact, free rice of 5 kg a person was being distributed under the Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Anna Yojana (PMGKAY) through the public distribution system and 110 tonnes of rice was distributed a month under the scheme. Besides, 35 kg foodgrain at ₹3 a kg was also being distributed to the families under the Antyodaya Anna Yojana (AAY).
He further submitted that there had been sufficient stock of food to last up to October on all the islands. Moreover, food meant for the mid-day meal scheme was being distributed to students directly though schools were remaining closed on account of the lockdown. Food was supplied free to the first-line COVID-19 treatment centres as well. Therefore, there was no question of any starvation being experienced by any islanders. The allegations in the petition were vague and did not highlight any specific incident of starvation. Nobody had approached the authorities with complaints of lack of food.
Food kits to be ensured
The Centre, meanwhile, undertook before the court that it would take necessary steps to ensure that there was no shortfall in the supply of food kits and other necessary provisions to the residents of the islands during the period of lockdown.
The public interest litigation sought a directive to the Centre and the Lakshadweep administration to provide food kits to needy islanders and transfer cash into their accounts till the lockdown was lifted.
According to petitioner Nasih K.K. of Amini island, some of the islanders could not afford to buy food due to joblessness and non-availability of food following the extension of curfew and lockdown. They were facing acute starvation. As there were travel restrictions, non-governmental organisations could not come and provide succour to the islanders, he pointed out.