Covid-19 DEFDialogue, is a special series initiated by Digital Empowerment Foundation on Covid-19 where we connect with key individuals within our network in 600 locations across 25 states to find out how Covid-19 and the lockdown situation has impacted their area and the measures they are undertaking to tackle it. We will also be interacting with industry experts to gauge the situation and measures that can be undertaken.
Osama Manzar, Founder and Director, Digital Empowerment Foundation, spoke with—Irfan Khan, a Soochnapreneur and Community Information Resource Centre (CIRC) Coordinator—on the problems faced by the villagers of Raybaka—a small village located in Alwar district of Rajasthan, where even a motorable road does not exist.
“Off late, biometric to avail ration has been stopped and instead OTP mechanism has been put in place. Since this the only option, people are unable to avail it because either they don’t have a registered number or a phone.
The few who do, haven’t updated their numbers in their government ids, especially aadhar cards—and this is one of the biggest issues that the villagers are facing.
I have been trying to find a way to help them by adding new contact details or updating them against their names online, but this has not been possible for all.
I have also requested the Panchayat/ local authorities to consider providing ration to people who are unable to update their contact details, and as a temporary measure their names could be noted down offline—and the same can be updated online once the beneficiaries’ details are updated on the government portal.
The other issue is that the business is shut and even the basic amenities are sold for a higher price. The daily wagers don’t have money on them to buy provisions. The banks have a long queue but withdrawal of money is limited since the banks are open for a limited time.
Being a bank correspondent, I have initiated a process of ‘home-delivering banking services’ to help people of the surrounding villages. I now provide door-to-door facility, especially to the elderly and differently-abled people by giving them their money. This money comes either from government schemes or pensions etc.—and I get it delivered so that they do not have to step out of their respective homes.
Many migrant workers and truck drivers who have returned to the village, have just gotten their respective names registered, but haven’t been tested.
Also another issue which is popping up is the harvesting of crops. It is prohibited and has put the farmers in a vulnerable situation. If the lockdown doesn’t ease out, the harvest will go waste.
I have also distributed 4500 masks to the people in a slum area and have arranged for ration for them. I have been continuously trying and working on convincing the local authorities to at least provide them with the essentials, so they can survive.”