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Poor families battling hunger amid contagion


GUWAHATI, April 9 - Notwithstanding the efforts of the government and voluntary organisations at ensuring food supply to the needy during the ongoing nationwide lockdown, many impoverished families across the State continue to battle hunger.

There has also been a case of suicide, reportedly induced by hunger, at a Goalpara village about a week back. According to the local residents, most of the families in that village at Agiya had run out of rations and the man, Gopal Barman, was driven to ending his life.

The harrowing ordeal of those having to make do without a meal has been laid bare by a viral video in which a family of a daily wage earner of Baligaon (Kochgaon) near Tezpur in Sonitpur district on the brink of starvation cries out for help.

The marginalised family whose tearful appeal in social media comes a day after their stock of rice was exhausted also bemoans the fact that their residence being in an interior village, it is missed by vehicles dropping essential commodities to households even when those living near the main road get delivery.

�We do not have any rice and nor can we get anything from our neighbours who are equally poor,� cries out Saraswati, a young mother in the family in the video that also shows an elderly woman and a child appealing for help with folded hands and teary eyes.

This is not the lone incident of its kind, as there have been instances of many people surviving only on rice without dal � if not starving.

Tinku Das of Geruwagaon in Hajo laments that his family of six, including three minors and an aged one, has been surviving with the bare minimum food.

�We are getting rice from the ration shop but nothing else. We do not even have dal. Sometimes we manage with wild herbs such as kosu but it has been a harrowing existence for us. We urge the authorities to at least provide some dal,� he said.

While the government authorities are doing a commendable job in facilitating food to the homeless and the destitute, there is a clear gap in identifying another segment having their homes but with little or no access to food.

A source in the district administration said that every effort was being made to reach out to the needy but it was possible that somebody could get left out. �We also urge all concerned to be vigilant and inform the government authorities and the district administration or the police if anybody is having difficulty in accessing food. We also appeal to the NGOs to intervene � which they are already doing � to reach out to the needy,� he said.

Voluntary organisations and good Samaritans, too, have meanwhile stepped up their drives in providing foodstuff to the poor and the needy. The family at Baligaon also received assistance after their appeal went viral.

Several NGOs in the city as also societies from apartments are continuing with their efforts in distributing food among the needy. �It is an unprecedented crisis and everybody with some means must contribute to this larger cause of preventing starvation amidst the contagion,� a city-based social activist said.

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