Tripura’s ‘pandemic kitchen’ provides food to needy amid Covid-19 crisis

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A social organisation has started a ‘langar’ or community kitchen in Tripura to provide free food to the needy, including orphans and old-age home veterans, amid the Covid-19 pandemic.

The ‘langar’ has been named ‘Mohamarir Heshel’ which means ‘pandemic kitchen’ or ‘kitchen during pandemic’.

Sourav Bhattacharjee, a theatre student of Rabindra Bharati University in West Bengal, got the idea to open a community kitchen from langars at Jadavpur in Bengal during the first lockdown in March. He came back to Khowai district of Tripura, his hometown, during Unlock 2.0 and started the pandemic kitchen along with nearly 30 people from different professions.

The organisation comprises graduate and postgraduate students, teachers, advocates, writers, media persons, movie directors, among others. It was started in October with an aim to provide cooked food, once a week, to children living in orphanages and veterans of old-age homes in and around the capital city.

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They provide rice, dal, vegetables, chicken and a citrus fruit in the meal to children who sit by maintaining social distance.

“Many people lost their source of livelihood during the Covid-19 lockdown. Food is most necessary in this period. So, we are trying to provide meals to the poor at least once a week now,” said Sourav.

The organisation is also looking to open its pandemic kitchen in slums, bordering villages and other areas.

The state has reported 26,552 Covid-19 patients so far, of whom 290 have died. Another two patients died by suicide. Total 21,387 patients have recovered from the disease.

The state has 5.79 lakh poor families including 4.70 lakh priority group and another 1.09 lakh Antodaya Annapurna Yojana (AAY) families, according to state government record. Nearly 1,969 migrant workers are living in the state and among them, many have returned during different Unlock phases.

During the first lockdown in March, the urban development department started community kitchen and provided free meals to the homeless people.

The state government had also requested different non-government organisations and self-help groups to provide food to the homeless.

Earlier, the state government provided Rs. 1,000 to each 8,666 identified hawkers, vendors and others who are engaged in menial jobs. The state also provided free ration to AAY and Below Poverty Line (BPL) families and subsidised ration for Above Poverty Line (APL) families amid the pandemic.

The pandemic kitchen, three days back, provided food to an orphanage located at Aralia in the outskirts of the capital city.

“The Mohamarir Heshel came to our orphanage and provided food to the children. They are doing a very good job,” said Kalyan Dasgupta, one of the founders of the orphanage.

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