New Delhi: Distribution of free and hot cooked meals by Indian Railways has crossed the three million mark Thursday during the national lockdown due to COVID-19. On April 20, Indian Railways reached 2 million mark in the distribution of free meals, and in last 10 days, it has increased the tally by a million, said a statement issued by the Ministry of Railways.
The global pandemic has created unprecedented situations leaving a large number of people vulnerable to hunger. Those worst hit by this pandemic and lockdown are stranded persons and people living on the margins of the society, like the daily wage labourers, migrants, children, coolies, homeless, the poor and many who form the floating population.
Indian Railways’ staff members from a number of Railway organisations have worked tirelessly since March 28 to provide hot cooked meals to needy people after the lockdown due to COVID-19. Indian Railways has been providing bulk cooked food with paper plates for lunch and food packets for dinner through IRCTC base kitchens, RPF resources and through the contribution of Non-Governmental Organisations. While delivering the food to needy persons basic rules like social distancing and hygiene are being observed.
Distribution of food is being done with the help of RPF, GRP, commercial departments of Zones, State Governments, District administrations and NGOs, even beyond the station vicinity to cater to the food requirements of needy people in areas surrounding the railway stations.
With the active cooperation of IRCTC base kitchens in New Delhi, Bangalore, Hubli, Mumbai Central, Ahmedabad, Bhusaval, Howrah, Patna, Gaya, Ranchi, Katihar, Deen Dayal Upadhyaya Nagar, Balasore, Vijaywada, Khurda, Katpadi, Tiruchirapalli, Dhanbad, Guwahati, Samastipur, Prayagraj, Itarsi, Vishakhapatnam, Chengalpatu, Pune, Hajipur, Raipur and Tatanagar spread over various zones such as Northern, Western, Eastern, Southern and South Central, more than 30 lakh cooked meals have been distributed till April 30.
Of these, about 17.17 lakh cooked meals have been provided by IRCTC, about 5.18 lakh meals have been provided by RPF from its own resources, about 2.53 lakh meals have been provided by commercial and other departments of Railways and nearly 5.60 lakh meals have been donated by NGOs working with Railway organisations.
The Railway Protection Force has played a major role in the food distribution to needy people prepared by IRCTC, other Railway departments, NGOs and from its own kitchens. Starting with the distribution of food to 5,419 needy persons over 74 locations on March 28, the number has grown daily. Presently about 50,000 persons daily are being provided meals on an average by RPF across approximately 300 locations across the country.