Tamil Nadu

Tamil Nadu government clarifies warning on distribution of relief during COVID-19 lockdown

Photograph used for representational purposes only   | Photo Credit: ARUN SANKAR/AFP

A day after it warned of legal action against individuals, NGOs and political parties directly distributing relief materials and food to people in need during the COVID-19 lockdown, the AIADMK government on Monday clarified that it only urged “coordinating with the district administration” to ensure that relief material reached people safely. However, the government did not mention whether political parties could extend such material assistance.

An official release issued on Monday claimed the contents of the press release issued on Sunday were “misunderstood”. “The government only instructed them to follow norms as per the prevailing situation and has not stopped anyone. Instead, relief assistance from volunteers and other organisations could be coordinated with district administration when required,” it said.

Calling upon people to contribute relief materials to authorities concerned, the release stated: “Arrangements would be made to distribute relief material, cooked food and dry rations offered by NGOs to the areas or people they specify.”

The government also claimed DMK president and Leader of the Opposition M.K. Stalin, MDMK founder Vaiko and Tamil Nadu Congress Committee president K.S. Alagiri “have been campaigning against the truth” as if the government had stopped volunteers from extending assistance to the poor. “The government is not playing any politics,” the release said.

About 2,500 organisations and over 58,000 volunteers have registered themselves with the State government and have been extending assistance “along with district administration” by following physical distancing and public health norms.

Though the press release issued on Sunday also mentioned “political parties” cannot directly distribute relief, the release issued on Monday made no reference to political parties.

“The government’s intention is not stopping aid. The government’s position is that the relief should be extended appropriately and through safe means, considering the prevailing situation,” it said.

While it underlined the “commendable work” by volunteers and NGOs during natural disasters such as the tsunami, floods, cyclones Ockhi and Vardah in Tamil Nadu during the past, it pointed out there were no prohibitory orders in place then.

The State government said it was only in good faith that the pandemic should not spread due to crowding that it had imposed prohibitory orders under Section 144 of the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC). The release also referred to opinions of public health experts against such distribution of relief as during natural disasters.

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Printable version | Nov 29, 2021 3:22:59 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/tamil-nadu/tamil-nadu-government-clarifies-warning-on-distribution-of-relief-during-covid-19-lockdown/article31328782.ece

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