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Prateek Dwivedi, a lawyer practising at the Supreme Court, has taken the initiative to provide cooked meals to Below Poverty Line persons and migrant workers in Noida affected by the COVID-19 lockdown.
The initiative has now grown into a larger cause of trying to ensure that as many people as possible are provided with assistance so that they do not go hungry in these trying times.
Ever since the nation-wide lockdown came into effect from March 25, migrant workers, labourers and persons below the poverty line have been battling hunger. The lockdown has caused daily wage workers to lose their source of income. While it can be argued that the strictest COVID-19 lockdown in the world was essential to prevent irreparable harm, it has also led to a humanitarian crisis.
In the face of this crisis, Dwivedi took it upon himself to hand out food to as many BPL persons and migrant workers stranded in Noida that he possibly could. In the initial days of the lockdown, Dwivedi reached out to persons in need of help and handed out food to people near his residence. The distribution was done with the help of police personnel who would inform Dwivedi of a growing need for the same.
After roping in a caterer by the end of March, Dwivedi reached out to a larger number of people in need of food to provide them with cooked meals. He was able to distribute as many as 300 to 600 cooked meals per day.
Having tied up with NGO Sai Foundation, Dwivedi has now taken to distributing ration kits to distressed families for a more sustainable model.
With help from the NGO, volunteers, local police, among others, Dwivedi undertakes a process of preparing a list of areas and families in need of help and carries out a verification process before delivering ration kits.
The ration kits typically contain wheat flour, rice, dal, oil, salt, sugar, and turmeric powder, and is expected to sustain a family for 10 to 14 days. Dwivedi's initiative reaches out to as many as 500 families daily. All the items, Dwivedi says, are sourced mainly from local shops and are paid for from the money raised by the NGO through crowdfunding.
The Noida Food Relief is supported by crowdfunding and donations made towards the same are applicable for tax exemptions under Section 80G of the Income Tax Act.
Dwivedi says that while the Noida authorities are doing great work, it is still not possible for them to reach all those in need. This is why civil society needs to come forward with a helping hand, he says.
Dwivedi's initiative can be found on social media:
Donations can be also be made for this cause.