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Jharkhand to give dry ration to sex workers without identity proof

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In a move to rescue the pandemic-hit sex workers, the Jharkhand government has decided to provide them dry ration and enrol under National Food Security Act (NFSA), maintaining confidentiality of the identity and address of the workers, officials said on Wednesday.

The move follows the Supreme Court order on October 28 when it asked the state governments and union territories to provide dry rations to the sex workers who are identified by the National AIDS Control Organization (NACO) without insisting on proof of identity.

According to NACO’s Jharkhand wing, Jharkhand State AIDS Control Society (JSACS), population of sex works in the state is 12,077.

JSACS additional project director Dr Shyam Sundar Paswan said they recently submitted the data to NACO so that they could avail the dry ration.

“Since their identity could not be revealed, the society would assist the workers and the department to get their name registered for ration cards under NFSA,” he said.

State food public distribution and consumer affairs (FPDCA) department on Wednesday issued a press advertisement in this regard.

FPDCA joint secretary Shantanu Agrahari said, “We provided dry ration to destitute and needy people during Covid pandemic triggered lockdowns. However, due to non-disclosure of identity, the benefits might not have reached the sex workers. So, we have decided to help them in two ways. If they immediately require the ration relief, they may contact the local mukhiyas or urban councilors. For regular ration, they could apply for ration cards through online or offline.”

He said every mukhiya has an emergency fund of Rs 10,000 provided under the Jharkhand State Emergency Foodgrain Fund. “The mukhiyas have been asked to provide immediate relief if any such case comes,” he said.

Agrahari said, “The sex workers would also be enrolled under the National Food Security Act (NFSA) and given ration cards so that they could get subsidised foodgrains regularly. Since they would not be asked for proof of identity, we have decided to take help from JSACS and the district legal services authority (DLSA) in the process of their enrollment,” he said.

The NFSA had been rolled out in the state from October 1, 2015. Around 57 lakh households covering 2.63 people, around 80% of the state population, have been receiving rice at Re 1 per kg in Jharkhand under the scheme.

However, around 22 lakh applications for ration cards are still pending with the department, an official, who did not wish to be quoted, said.

To deal with the pending applications, the Jharkhand government has announced to roll out Jharkhand State Food Security (JSFS) scheme under which 15 lakh people deprived of NFSA would be benefited.

The state sponsored scheme would be launched from January 1, 2021. Earlier, the scheme was to be launched from November 15. However, it was deferred due to some technical issues.