The Dakshina Kannada district administration came under pressure on Wednesday after it emerged that spoilt rice was distributed to migrant workers in Jokkatte in the district. The district's labour department distributed 100 bags of rice earlier this week after a protest was held by the workers requesting officials to arrange trains to their homes in Bihar, Jharkhand and Uttar Pradesh.
However, on Wednesday, the workers reported that some of the rice bags distributed had a foul smell and looked visibly spoilt. The issue was highlighted by Democratic Youth Federation of India (DYFI) state president Muneer Katipalla who visited the workers and raised the complaint. "The rice had spoilt and eventually, some of it was even thrown away. The color of the rice had changed. We have asked the district administration to conduct an enquiry into this. Were bills raised for providing spoilt rice to the workers?," Muneer Katipalla told TNM.
He says that few workers have carried the rice with them and boarded the train to Bihar on Wednesday but adds that there are still many workers depending on the district administration for food and ration. "We have not been given proper food and water here. We are from Uttar Pradesh and Bihar and there are many of us who wanted to go home," Lakshman Sahani, a migrant worker from Uttar Pradesh told Vartha Bharati.
Dakshina Kannada DC Sindhu Rupesh told TNM that an inquiry will be conducted into the incident. Sunanda, an official in the Food and Civil Supplies Department in Dakshina Kannada, said that migrant workers were provided cooked food and ration in the district. "Migrant workers were given ration if they have ration cards. There were more workers staying in settlements who were provided with cooked food and kits with ration. We have to check if this is provided by the food department," she says.
Migrant workers in Dakshina Kannada held a protest at the Mangaluru Central Railway Station on 8 May asking district officials to allow them to return home. Following the protest, district officials convinced the workers to return to their residence and promised that trains would be started to send workers. This week, several trains have left Dakshina Kannada to places like Bihar and Jharkhand with migrant workers on board. More than 21,000 workers had registered to leave for their homes by train from the district.