coronavirus: If food is not available to migrant workers, food riot may be a real possibility: Pronab Sen

NEW DELHI: Former chief statistician Pronab Sen has warned that if food requirements of migrant workers with no income are not fulfilled amid countrywide lockdown, then ‘food riot’ may be a real possibility.

In an interview to The Wire, Sen said that if the coronavirus pandemic spreads in rural areas, containment will be impossible.

In wake of the countrywide lockdown to combat the coronavirus threat, thousands of migrant workers from Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and other states have started returning back to their home states from cities, including Delhi and Mumbai.

“The problem is that if food is not made available (to migrant workers) and this, we have experienced in this country earlier, we had food riots during the times of famine.

“…we could have food riots again if food is not made available. Let’s we clear about this,” the economist said while replying to a question on impact of the lockdown on India’s vulnerable section.

“If supply system doesn’t come unstuck, if the requirements of people who have no income are not met then food riots are very real possibility,” Sen asserted.

On Friday, Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal had said thatfrom Saturday the government will be serving lunch and dinner to nearly four lakh people at over 224 night shelters, 325 schools and other locations.

He pointed out that the whole objective of the lockdown was to arrest spread of the coronavirus.

“Now, If we are in a situation when a very large number of population are forced to come together at a very short period of time in order to access food, whether it is cooked meal in rain basera or what they have done in Punjab and uttarakhand which is shops will open only three hours in the morning which is a classic curfew model…you will probably get a higher spread of infection because of this….,” Sen observed.

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