Arvind Kejriwal kickstarts Mid-day scheme to distribute dry ration kits to 8 lakh Delhi government school students; a scheme to continue till schools reopen*
New Delhi December 29, 2020: Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal on Tuesday distributed dry ration kits to Delhi government school students. Dry ration kits, consisting of wheat, rice, pulses, and oil were provided to all eligible students from Classes 1-8 in Delhi govt schools under the mid-day meal scheme of the Delhi government. During the distribution program, CM Arvind Kejriwal said that he is proud of the teachers for working so hard during Corona and around 94% of students in Delhi are taking online classes. He said that despite the same teachers, same students, and the same schools, the atmosphere has changed, and people from across the world visit Delhi to witness these government schools. He said that the Delhi govt provided Rs 5000 each to construction workers for their livelihood and transferred Rs 5000 each to the bank accounts of taxi and auto drivers every month till the lockdown got opened, and all this work is reaching Goa. He also said that on the message of a taxi driver, he passed orders to waive off penalty on late submission of road taxes. This happened because the AAP govt is of common people and is committed to finding solutions to their problems. The distribution program was held at SKV No. 3 Mandawali, where the CM was joined by Dy CM and Education Minister of Delhi, Shri Manish Sisodia.
Arvind Kejriwal said, “I just took a round of this school, and the infrastructure of this school is superior. It is not very common to find such good schools. Earlier, the government schools used to be in a pitiable condition, with broken walls, ceilings, desks and boards, and no facilities available and bad atmosphere. We used to blame the school teachers for no studies in schools. The teachers are the same, and the same teachers are doing an excellent job at teaching. Our students are getting admissions in IITs, medical institutions, and law institutions. These schools are now the objects of pride and honor for the people of Delhi. People from across the world visit Delhi to witness these government schools.”
Addressing the distribution program, he said, “We are gathered here today to start the distribution of dry ration kits to the students. The last nine months have been extremely difficult, and we cannot see an end to this difficulty. The vaccine has been made and I hope it will reach our country soon. I pray to God for the vaccine to bring an end to our misery so that our lives can get back on track. But till the time the vaccine does not come, we have to find solutions. The most distressed in the last nine months were children, they cannot remain locked up in a room. They have energy and want to play and go to school, but we had never thought that our children will have to study in front of phones and computers because schools will be closed. The whole system has changed. I am extremely proud of our teachers for working so hard during this while, around 94% of students in Delhi are taking online classes. During all this while, we tried to provide the corresponding amount of the mid-day meal provided to the students, in the bank accounts of their parents. But today, we are starting ration distribution at the request of the parents of these students. Each student will be provided an adequate ration for a period of 6 months, July 2020 to December 2020, so that there is no lack in providing nutrition to children.”
Kejriwal said that the lockdown was an extremely difficult phase because the incomes of the people, their shops, businesses, industries, taxis, autos, and markets, etc, were shut down. It was extremely difficult for a daily wage laborer to afford food. He said that it was a testing period for all the governments to show how responsible they are. “We tried our best to provide food to all during the lockdown. The Delhi government provided food to 10 lakh people every day, and all these arrangements were made in all the schools across Delhi including Central govt and MCD schools. Around 10 lakh people were provided lunch and dinner every day, and we used to serve them as we were serving langars since we had our religious sentiments. We continued the distribution till people stopped coming for food and till the time the queues were over. The Delhi government provided dry ration, consisting of wheat, rice, pulses, oil, and spices, to 1 crore people, i.e., 50% of Delhi’s population every day for 3 months. We doubled the pensions of elders and widows to Rs 5000. We provided Rs 5000 each to construction workers for their livelihood and transferred Rs 5000 each to the bank accounts taxi and auto drivers every month till the lockdown got opened,” he added.
Arvind Kejriwal said, “Recently, some taxi drivers from Goa were in Delhi and wanted to meet me. Whenever somebody comes to Delhi, they want to meet me and appreciate the works done in Delhi. Yogesh, who was in the group that came from Goa, while appreciating the infrastructure of the schools and hospitals in Delhi, said that the Delhi govt is the only govt to have worked for auto and taxi drivers by transferring Rs 5000 each to their bank accounts during Corona. I was very happy that our works in Delhi had reached Goa. I told them that this was not only limited to Corona lockdown. The taxi and auto drivers need the help of the governments. We have changed all rules and regulations, and so our drivers do not need to pay bribes to get their works done because of an honest government in Delhi. Around 4-5 days back, I received a message from a taxi driver in Delhi, who said that he could not submit road tax during Corona lockdown because of no income and wanted a penalty waive-off. We passed an order in 24 hours and waived off the penalty on late road tax. A taxi driver from a state messaging the CM is a unique thing in itself. The CM reads the message and passes an order to solve his problem, and that is only possible because this is an honest government of a common man. We know which section in Delhi faces what kind of difficulties, and as soon as we get to know about them, we get to working for the people immediately.”
“This is a very difficult phase especially for the children, please take care of them, ensure they attend all online classes, and please take care of their nutrition. I hope that the vaccine comes and ends our difficulty as soon as possible,” he added.
Deputy CM Manish Sisodia said, “Today, we are so proud to see this impressive school building and there is a significance to this building. It was during a visit to this school in Mandawali when Hon’ble Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal had directed Minister Satyendra Jain to renovate all the school buildings in Delhi.”
Deputy CM said that even if the Covid-19 vaccine is available, it will be difficult to compensate for the learning loss due to Covid-19. Every day, we pray for the schools to reopen and get re-energized like pre-Covid times. “God is testing our patience in these challenging times. But I am proud that despite these challenges our Team Education has been persistent with its efforts. Everyone has worked really hard to reach 94% of the students through online and semi online teaching,” he added.
He said that non-availability of mid-day meals due to the closure of schools has been a challenge. There were many families who were finding it hard to have enough on their plates. Massive unemployment due to Covid-19 has aggravated the issue. On the directions of the Hon’ble Chief Minister, we experimented by transferring money directly to the students’ account. It was CM’s idea that it’s better to distribute ration rather than transferring money. Hence, we are now providing dry ration to more than 8 lakh students in government and government-aided schools in Delhi. He added that it is the first of its kind initiative in the country. “Today, the Hon’ble Chief Minister is starting this program and it will continue until the schools reopen,” said the Dy CM.
By Lipakshi Seedhar: Staff Correspondent.