SOS calls for food shoot up

Over a month after the nation-wide lockdown brought the economy to a halt and disrupted life, many in the city are on the brink of starvation. Messages on phones, social media and informal networks are buzzing about food requirements of people across the city.

On Saturday afternoon, an activist put out a tweet about a family: “Sir, please help needy person one family at Bahadurpura area near Fiza Hotel contact number 70931842xx Ismail along with his family and daughter and a boy are in need of rations (sic).”

Within minutes, the Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (GHMC) officials responded: “Dear citizen, Thank you for bringing this to our notice. Will respond at the earliest.”

A little later, there was another message with a woman’s name, a phone number and requirement of food near Hakeempet Kunta, an area that is just a few metres from the upscale locality of Banjara Hills.

“We were told about people going hungry in the Champapet area. We went there with 250 food packets and realised that there were about 300 people. There were senior citizens and widows but they had homes. So we supplied them dry rations that would last 15 days,” says Fauzan Khan, who has been moving around distributing cooked food and rations in many parts of the city.

He encountered a desperate call for food at two locations in the city over the past few days. “When we went to distribute food near Hafeezbaba Nagar and in the inner lanes of Zehra Colony in Banjara Hills, a huge number of people rushed in to collect the food. Luckily, we had police protection so we could exit easily,” says Mr. Khan.

Sitting under Pillar no. 50 are a couple, Salman and Reshma. “In the initial days, people distributed a lot of food. We saved some and ate it in the evening. But now we are getting it only once a day. Some passersby give us food, without which we would have to go hungry,” says Reshma, who used to work as a maid in the area but is now unemployed. Her husband used to work for a pushcart owner and has lost his job.

“Based on requirements and calls, the GHMC is distributing 10,000 lunch packs and a similar number for dinner. But the requirement is much higher. It is not just the migrants who are affected, even local residents who have been rendered jobless are affected. We are not able to gauge the desperation in the inner parts of the city,” says Laeek Ahmed who is volunteering his services for food distribution with the GHMC.

On Saturday, the GHMC helpline received 453 calls for food and delivered 20,500 food packets through Annapurna mobile vehicles.

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Printable version | Aug 7, 2020 1:17:58 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Hyderabad/sos-calls-for-food-shoot-up/article31434324.ece

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