Sunday, March 26

Calcutta puja committee turns lockdown Samaritan

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A puja committee in Salt Lake has started distributing a week’s ration to the needy and senior citizens who live alone in the township.

A majority of the beneficiaries are rickshaw-pullers, sweepers, labourers and cooks and workers of fast-food outlets that are closed because of the lockdown.

The ED Block Abashikbrindo puja committee has raised funds from residents over the past several days and started distributing food on Sunday.

The committee is not only raising funds to buy food but is also using it to buy clothes for distribution among underprivileged children during Durga Puja, Ranjan Poddar, a member of the puja committee, said.

“The lockdown has hit the poor the hardest. Most are running terribly short of funds… we were thinking of ways to help them when a member came up with the idea,” Poddar said.

The committee created a WhatsApp group of residents and appealed for help. Several residents responded — some donated money while many gave bags of rice, pulses and cereals, he said.

The committee has formed a group of volunteers, some of whom are going around the block distributing the packets. Each packet contains 2kg each of rice and potato, 1kg onion, 1kg daal, and a 500gm bottle of cooking oil, Poddar said.

The volunteers have done a detailed profiling of those in need of help in adjoining blocks and come up with a list of close to 1,000 men and women.

The committee has also been distributing packets of food among several elderly residents who live alone and find it difficult to go to the market for essential items, another member said.

“There are many elderly couples in our block whose children are working outside the state. We have been giving them these packets. Many are reluctant to accept, though, and some have even offered us money,” the member said.

Till late on Sunday, the committee had distributed food packets among more than 200 people while following social distancing norms, Poddar said.

Several other puja committees in the township are thinking of distributing food to the needy.

Banibrata Banerjee, a member of the FD Block puja committee, said a videoconference had been planned to discuss how to go about the matter.

Rudradeb Mukherjee, a member of the EC Block puja committee, said members had held a teleconference to discuss how to distribute free ration among rickshaw-pullers, labourers and sweepers in the block.

“These people have lost their livelihood and we need to do everything we can to help them tide over this crisis,” Mukherjee said.


Source: The Telegraph

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