Chennai: Tamilnadu government today started doling out Rs 2,500 in cash, along with rice, sugar, cashew nuts, cardamom and clothes as part of Pongal gift hamper scheme announced by Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswami. The gift hamper is being given to the State’s 2.10 crore rice card holders through PDS (ration) shops.
The State government said it is giving out the gift hamper as the poor and middle class’ livelihoods have suffered from the impact of Covid-19 as well as the two cyclones – Nivar and Burevi.
Tokens have already been distributed to ration cardholders. They must purchase the Pongal gift package on the date specified on the token. Pongal gift packages will be given to 100 people in the morning and 100 in the afternoon in ration shops till 13 January.
Covid-19 safety measures are in place at ration shops and people should wear masks and maintain social distancing.
The government has appealed to the card holders not to crowd the ration shops. They should use face masks and maintain physical distancing. The ration shops have been instructed to distribute the hampers well before the deadline.
The officials also said that there was no need for panic as all eligible card holders in the State would get the gift.
Palaniswami had inaugurated the scheme recently. In an interview to a news channel, Food Minister R Kamaraj had unveiled the government’s plans to distribute the Pongal gift hampers by swiping the smart ration cards, instead of employing the biometric system. According to him, cardholders could get the hampers only from the ration shops that they are registered with.
G Rajendran, State president of Tami Nadu Ration Shop Employees’ Union, welcomed the government’s decision not to distribute the gift hampers through biometric process, which he said was time consuming. “There is also delay in reading the fingerprints of some people, especially the elderly,” he added.