In the wake of a surge in COVID-19 cases in Madhya Pradesh and the subsequent curbs, the state government on Monday announced to provide free ration to all eligible beneficiaries for the next three months.
The government also asked officials to invoke the stringent National Security Act (NSA) against those involved in the black marketing of life-saving drugs. Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan made the announcement at a video conferencing meeting with district collectors.
The meeting was held to take stock of the coronavirus situation in the state, which has seen a spurt in cases in the last few weeks, leading the authorities to impose a slew of curbs on movement of people and non-essential activities. In view of the pandemic, the entire three months' stock of foodgrains can be collected at one go to avoid frequent visits to ration shops set up under the public distribution system (PDS), he said.
All eligible poor residents of the state will get three months ration for free from fair price shops (PDS outlets). "Three months' ration will be given together so that people need not visit such shops frequently, he told the district collectors.
Chouhan told them to invoke the NSA, under which one can be detained without a charge for up to 12 months, against those involved in the black marketing of important drugs.
Those selling life-saving injections at higher prices should not be spared, he said. During the past one week, the police have caught some people in Bhopal, Indore and other cities on charges of black marketing Remdesivir, a key antiviral drug for treating COVID-19 whose demand has shot up.
Chouhan said there would be no shortage of money in tackling the pandemic. Efforts have been made on a war footing to provide adequate medical oxygen for treating critical coronavirus patients in the state, he said.
Remdesivir injections are also being supplied to hospitals continuously, Chouhan said. The chief minister told the district collectors to set up containment zones in affected areas under their jurisdiction to control the spread of COVID-19.