open view news desk
NEW DELHI, APRIL 18: Swami Vivekananda in his preaching once said, “Service to man is service to God”, which means selfless service to humanity helps one to reach nearer the God and serve Him. The Ministry of Social Justice & Empowerment in tune with that thought is working with major Municipal Corporations of the country to arrange for feeding of more than 1.27 crore destitute/beggars/homeless persons since the commencement of lockdown in order to combat with Corona.
The Ministry, in a project, had already selected Kolkata among 10 cities including Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai, Hyderabad, Bengaluru, Lucknow, Nagpur, Patna and Indore for implementing a comprehensive scheme for rehabilitation of persons in begging which would cover identification, rehabilitation, provision of medical facilities, counselling, education, skill development with the support of State Governments/UTs/Local Urban Bodies and Voluntary Organizations, institutions etc. Cent percent assistance under the Scheme will come from the States/UTs for its implementation.
In the current circumstances which the country is facing in the wake of COVID-19 outbreak and the resultant lockdown all over the country, it was feared that many people currently engaged in begging, vagrants was facing serious difficulties resulting in starvation. To provide succour to them, Municipal Corporations of 10 cities were instructed to set up feeding centres for providing free cooked food for the persons engaged in beggary and vagrants with immediate effect. This arrangement would also help in identification of the persons who could be brought under the comprehensive national project in the future.
Under the scheme, 1.3 lakh such people have been provided with free meals in Kolkata in association with Kolkata Municipal Corporation and a NGO. One such location is an abandoned building at Kalighat which house nearly 4,000 homeless people. Fearing that among such a huge number of dwellers of that building some might have fever or cough, the cops of Kalighat Police station has jumped in taking action to keep vigil on them. They have also taken decision of doing videography of the lunch session of those persons, maintaining social distance as well as abiding to sanitisation norms prescribed by both Union & State Government.
Some other areas where cops are keeping close vigil include-Bowbazar, College Street, Rajabazar, Entally, Canal East Road, Khidderpore, Garden Reach and Bhawanipore.
The Special Municipal Commissioner (Development, General, Personnel & Supply), Kolkata Municipal Corporation Shri Tapas Chowdhury said, no beggars of this city have kept unfed. They are provided free meals twice-one in noon and the other at night, in the wake of covid considering their helplessness.
According to Department of Women & Child Development and Social Welfare, Government of West Bengal, there are 32 Shelters for Urban Homeless people in Kolkata at various locations like Galib Street, Beliaghata Main Road, Raja Dinendra Street, Topsia Road, Metiaburuz, Garden Reach and the like.
Delhi is at the top so far as the number of destitutes fed with free meals. There 75 lakh such people who have been provided with free meals. City-wise details of destitute/beggars/homeless persons provided cooked food is as under:
Sl. No. Name of the City Number of persons provided
free Meals (in Lakhs)
1 Delhi 75.0
2. Mumbai 9.8
3. Kolkata 1.3
4. Chennai 3.5
5. Bengaluru 14.0
6. Hyderabad 7.0
7. Nagpur 0.8
8. Indore 8.4
9. Lucknow 7.0
10. Patna 0.5
Now, it is hoped that such helpless people get the proper rehabilitation and also health treatment so that they may be kept away from the menace of Corona, as many of the localities in the city has turned hot-spots including Kalighat-Bhawanipore area, to help the city gets freed from the threat of increasing the number of people suffering from the disease.