Covid test not mandatory for ration, but for some, confusion remains


Getting ration is proving to be a challenge for some, who say there is lack of clarity on whether Covid testing is mandatory or not. While authorities say tests are voluntary, a communication gap appears to exist at some government schools where foodgrain is being distributed for those without ration cards.

For instance, at the SDMC school in Chirag Delhi, Jahana and two of her daughters have been trying to get in line for ration from Saturday, when she reached the school at 8.30 am. However, when she got in line, she realised it was for a Covid test and not for ration.

When she returned on Monday, she said, “I got a token and was asked to return after the test results today. I received my negative test results on my phone on Sunday. But when we came back at 6.30 this morning, I was told that the token is no longer applicable and I would have to get a fresh one.”

Civil defence volunteers, who were in charge of testing, said those tokens would not be valid as ration and Covid testing are not linked, and that there was a miscommunication.

As hundreds of people rushed to get fresh tokens on Monday morning, Jahana and her family were left out. In her family of 9, four are ration card holders and she hoped to collect ration on behalf of at least one of the remaining five.

A woman, aged 35, who did not wish to be named, said, “If we are asked to wait all day, we do not mind. But if we have to keep coming day after day, it is very stressful. We do not know if we will ever get food.”

Sahodara (68), too, got demotivated and turned back on both days. She said she did not want to get tested. Ever since she had an accident last March, she has been out of work. Barely able to afford medicines, she started begging at the Shiv Mandir near the school. “I am not able to get ration here, nor have I been able to get a ration card for years. I don’t have an option but to survive on people’s goodwill,” she said, as she left the school to return to the mandir empty-handed.

A similar situation played out at Raja Rammohan Roy, Senior Secondary School, Hauz Rani. Around 3 pm, a security guard said ration was over and that administration and civil defence volunteers had packed up and left for the day.

Farooq Siddiqui, a social activist in the area, said many people had to undergo tests at the school and did not receive ration even after negative results. He said, “There is no problem with testing… the government can set up camps elsewhere. But when it is at schools distributing ration, people automatically think that tests are needed in order to get ration.”

When he voiced this concern on social media, MLA Somnath Bharti responded: “I will look into it.”

Speaking to The Indian Express, the MLA said, “I spoke to the district magistrate about this and was informed that this is a good opportunity to get people tested. We have noticed that the rate of testing and vaccination is much less in lower middle-class groups. It is also one way to spread awareness. However, it is not compulsory in order to collect ration, and people can say no.”



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