Thiruvanthapuram: The Kerala government will distribute free ration supplies to the public from April 1 to April 20 amid the COVID-19 lockdown, Minister of Food and Civil Supplies P Thilothaman said on Monday.
The food grains allocated by the central government will be distributed after April 20.
Priority sectors (yellow, pink cards) will be given their ration before 12pm and others (blue, white cards) may avail their free ration from 12pm to 5pm.
The food grains will be made available to the public through the 14,250 fair price shops across the state. Only five individuals will be allowed to approach the fair price shop at a time.
Volunteers will be deployed at fair price shops to ensure that social distancing is maintained. Those without ration cards may submit the Aadhaar card of the eldest member in the family and his phone number to avail the free rice grains.
The rice grains for the next month has already been procured, the minister said while adding that the government is planning to procure food grains for at least 3 months.
Meanwhile, the state government has begun procurement of material for the food kits.
The Kerala government had promised food kits to 87 lakh families in the state by the first week of April in the wake of the COVID-19 lockdown. This is expected to cost, as per preliminary estimates, Rs 800 crore to the state exchequer.
The minister added that the procurement of sugar and pulses, two important components in the food kit, were proving to be a challenge. The National Agricultural Cooperative Marketing Federation of India Ltd (NAFED) will ensure the availability of the items in the kit.
Those who do not wish to avail the offer may inform the authorities in advance. An SMS system will be set up to allow people to opt out of the scheme if they do not want the kit.
The Civil Supplies authorities said that the kits, worth Rs 1,000 each, would be distributed in a phased manner in April. Currently, the plan is to distribute the kits, with 16 items each, via ration shops. Or else these will be delivered to homes by volunteers.
The kit will not contain rice as the state is already giving 15kg of rice to everyone.
Those who have been put under home quarantine too will be given priority.
There are 87.14 lakh ration card owners in the state. Apart from them, the government is also considering giving food kits to the migrant workers in the state.