Rukum town stops providing meals to those in quarantine, gives them cash insteadPeople in various quarantine facilities across the municipality say Rs 178 given by the municipality every day is not enough to cover the cost of their four meals.
Chaurjahari Municipality in Rukum (West), which has 14 quarantine facilities for suspected Covid-19 patients, has stopped providing food to people living in these facilities, and has decided to hand out cash instead.
The decision was taken after the number of quarantined increased steadily, and the local government didn’t have money to feed everyone every day.
Mayor Bishal Sharma said that the town hasn’t received an adequate budget from the central and the provincial governments. “We expect the number to swell in the next few days. We cannot provide three meals a day to everyone.”
Until Tuesday, the municipality had been providing breakfast, lunch, and dinner for 39 individuals staying at its 14 facilities. On May 19, a meeting of the municipal-level disaster management committee decided to hand out Rs 178 to everyone in quarantine, instead of food.
On Friday alone 34 people returned to the municipality from various Indian cities. All have been sent to quarantine at their respective wards.
A directive issued by the federal government states that local governments must provide food for those in quarantine or give them food allowance equivalent to the rate fixed for the security personnel under the District Police Office.
But the cash allowance is not enough to pay for four meals a day, say those at the facilities.
Yubak BK, a man from Chaurjahari Ward No. 10, who has been staying at the quarantine facility in Ward No. 2, said, “Rs 178 is not sufficient to buy breakfast, lunch and dinner. Instead of giving us money, the municipality should make better arrangements for us.”
Purna Chaudhary, another resident of Ward No. 1, has been staying at the quarantine facility in his ward for the last six days. “It will be difficult for us to pay for food with the cash provided by the municipality.”
According to the municipal office, individuals who enter Chaurjahari (from India and other districts) need to stay in quarantine for 14 days.
According to Ram Bahadur KC, acting chief administrative officer of the municipality, the town provides sanitisers, soaps, drinking water, and other necessary materials to those staying in quarantine.
It is estimated that 3,244 individuals from Chaurjahari have been working in various parts of India. The municipal office estimates that around 50 percent of migrant workers will return to Chaurjahari in the coming days.