Chennai: People flocked ration outlets today to receive Rs 1,000 cash assistance and essential commodities including rice and cooking oil free of cost across Tamilnadu as authorities put their best foot forward to implement social distancing by giving tokens in advance to beneficiaries.
After Chief Minister Palaniswami announced a Rs 3,280 crore relief package on 24 March which includes cash to ‘rice’ ration card holders, and essential commodities such as rice, dhal, wheat, and sugar, to all categories of cards, free of cost in April, authorities began the distribution exercise today.
Though circles were drawn in front of PDS outlets to regulate people and ensure social distancing, serpentine queues of men and women could be seen in front of almost all shops in the State. Employees of the ration stores donned masks and hand sanitisers were also made available in a number of shops.
Tokens specifying the date and time of distribution were already distributed to a large number of beneficiaries to avoid crowd. Card holders said they received rice, dhal, wheat, cooking oil and sugar from the ration outlets. Chairs and ‘shamiana’ shelters were put up in quite a few shops in some suburban localities where there were adequate open space to faciliate people to sit while on the queue.
Tamilnadu follows universal Public Distribution System under which people have the option to choose rice (green) or other categories of ration cards like sugar (white). While commodities are sold at a very low cost like Rs 25 for a litre of palm oil, 20 kg rice is distributed for free. Now, as part of lockdown mitigating measures, all commodities are distributed free this month. The Chief Minister had said that auto drivers and construction workers will also get a special assistance of Rs 1,000.