Chennai: The Tamil Nadu government on Monday clarified it had not banned people from distributing food to the needy during the ongoing lockdown but insisted that all precautions such as social distancing should be duly followed.
The government's clarification came a day after it faced flak from opposition parties including the DMK, after the former had even warned of legal action against those deemed "violators" of the prohibitory orders in force to implement the lockdown.
"It is being clarified the government only insisted that volunteers and other sevice organisations should work together with the district administration and ensure (food) reaches the needy with due precaution," an official relese here said.
It had not issued any ban, the government added.
It said leaders including DMK President M K Stalin had claimed the government had banned the volunteers from helping the poor, and claimed this was "far from truth."
Incidentally, one of the 12 committees constituted by chief minister K Palaniswami as part of the state's fight against COVID-19, all headed by IAS officials, was dealing with such volunteers and service organisations and the work was being coordinated properly.
Over 2,500 institutions and 58,000 volunteers had registered with the government and working with the respective district administrations to provide relief to the aged, workers from Tamil Nadu as well as other states and the differently-abled, it said.
They were duly following social distancing and other required health precautions while providing assistance to the needy, the release added.
"The government's intention is not to prevent help. Its stand is that considering the present situation, relief assistance should be provided properly and safely," it said.
On Sunday also the government urged such volunteers and others should work with the district administration, it said.
Such restrictions on public movement had been imposed only with the aim to prevent the spread of coronavirus and that is why it was being insisted that the contributions could be given to the district collector or respective civic body officials, it added.
On Sunday, the state government had said individuals and organisations cannot distribute food to the needy in the streets, saying it was a violation of the prohibitory orders clamped to enforce the ongoing lockdown, a move opposed by the opposition DMK and Makkal Needhi Maiam.
It said the very purpose of clamping Section 144 of Cr.Pc., which bars the assembly of more than five persons, was to avoid crowding and ultimately prevent the spread of virus.
DMK President M K Stalin had slammed the move, saying whoever had issued the order was "heartless" and wondered why someone wanting to help people should be dissuaded from doing so.
MNM chief Kamal Haasan had also flayed it....