Kathmandu Metropolitan City doesn’t have plan to feed the poorYouth volunteers who have been feeding the poor in Khula Manch say many of them need to resume their classes, but the city is reluctant to help them out.
Following widespread criticism from the public and the media over Kathmandu Metropolitan City’s decision to bar volunteers from serving free meals at Khula Manch, city officials backtracked on their decision.
The city said the free meals programme can go on until Tihar, and it will help volunteers find an alternative open space to feed the needy. However, volunteers who have been providing free meals for the poor, jobless and the needy for the past eight months have accused the city of just trying to disrupt their humanitarian endeavour.
With just a day to go for Bhai Tika, the city doesn’t seem to be doing anything to help the volunteers. The city has also neither collected the details of people who need free meals, nor taken the initiative to look for a convenient place for the volunteers to serve free meals.
“Now, we have sensed that the city is just trying to sideline us. But this should not be,” said Bablu Gupta, who created a Facebook group (“100”) with other like-minded people and volunteer organisations to provide free meals to the needly.
He said the city hasn’t helped locate an open space or party palace where all the poor and jobless can go and fill their hungry stomach.
“As per the city’s decision, we have only one day left to leave this place,” said Gupta. The group has been providing free meals to 700 people twice a day.
He said the city has suggested Ram Mandir, Thapathali, which is not convenient for working class people such as porters, daily wage workers, disabled and other needy who mostly spend their time in Ratnapark and Mahaboudha areas.
When the Post contacted Ishwor Man Dangol, spokesperson for the city, to inquire about the city’s preparations to take care of the needy from Monday onwards, he said the volunteer groups are working on it.
He further said the city is planning to provide job opportunities to people who lost their employment during the Covid-19 pandemic. But, the city’s track record on the issue doesn’t suggest that such a programme will be effective.
During the three-month-long nationwide lockdown, the city said it spent Rs85 million distributing relief essentials to the poor, but many needy people were deprived of such facilities as the city couldn’t keep track of its needy people.
Some groups of Good Samaritans who have been feeding the poor say the city is not working irresponsibly and trying to sideline them.
“The city doing our work would not be a problem. We did the work when the people needed us, they still needed food. Now many of us have to resume our studies. We took this initiative to serve the poor. It’s the responsibility of the city to look after these poor people who don’t have anything to eat,” said Gupta.