Want to take food or dry rations to those in need? Here is what you must do

Are you a nonprofit/corporate entity or individual looking to distribute relief material to the poor and vulnerable? Follow the government guidelines here to secure the necessary permissions.

Tamil Nadu announced a statewide lockdown as part of a larger national effort to curb the spread of COVID-19 beginning March 24th at 5 pm. The announcement for the nationwide restrictions came into place at midnight on that date. This allowed very little time for migrants in the city to make their way back home. A large section among them was comprised of those who could not afford to stay back in the city without work, such as migrant labourers, who were stranded. The lockdown has since been extended until May 3rd. 

Civil society organisations, nonprofits and philanthropic organisations have mobilised themselves in the city alongside political parties and individual volunteers to provide relief to these vulnerable people in this time of crisis. They have been collecting donations in the form of cash or in kind such as groceries and supplies and donating them across the cities to those most in need. 

The state government initially allowed NGOs and volunteers to provide relief material directly to those affected, before changing its stance on April 12th. Those engaged in these efforts were directed to only channel them through the local authorities who will distribute them. After widespread condemnation that this could leave many vulnerable without essentials, the government went back on its stance.

However, this back and forth has created considerable confusion among citizens over whether they can do anything to help the communities in need, and if so how. Here’s a quick FAQ to take you through the steps…

Who can engage in relief work?

Non-profit organisations, civil society groups, individual volunteers, corporate CSR wings, or members affiliated to any political outfits or other organisations may involve themselves in relief work.

What should you do to secure authorisation for relief work in Chennai?

Interested parties must approach the Chennai Corporation or one of the 15 zonal offices or an office of one of the three Regional Deputy Commissioners to request for permission. They must approach these offices at least one day before they plan on engaging in relief work and furnish the following details: 

  • Location where the items will be distributed 
  • Kind of items being distributed (cooked food/dry rations/medicines.others) 
  • Number of people who will benefit
  • Registration number of the vehicle to be used
  • Name, address, contact and ID proof of the driver of the vehicle
  • Name, address, contact and ID proof of the person in-charge of distribution

Permission will be granted only for two persons per consignment. An official from the Chennai Corporation will be assigned to accompany the vehicle and ensure that cleanliness and social distancing norms are being strictly adhered to during the process.

Contact of Zonal Officers and RDC for perimission:

Zone Phone Number
Zone 1 – Thiruvottiyur 9445190001


Zone 2 – Manali 9445190002


Zone 3 – Madhavaram 9445190003    

044-25530427 / 044-25531134 

Zone 4 – Tondiarpet 9445190004

044-25951083 / 044-25961199 

Zone 5 – Royapuram 9445190005

044-25206655 / 044-25209269

Zone 6 – Thiru -vi-ka-Nagar 9445190006

044-26749990 / 044-26741802

Zone 7 – Ambattur 94451 90007


Zone 8 – Anna Nagar 94451 90008
Zone 9 – Teynampet 94451 90009

044-28170738 / 044-28174775

Zone 10 – Kodambakkam 94451 90010

044-24838968 / 044-24801959

Zone 11 – Valsaravakkam 9445190011, 044-24867054
Zone 12 – Alandur 9445190012, 044-22341702
Zone 13 – Adyar 9445190013

044-24425961 / 044-24425963

Zone 14 – Perungudi 9445190014, 044-22420520
Zone 15 – Sholingannallur 9445190015, 044-24500923
Regional Deputy Commissioner (North) 044-25200025   
Regional Deputy Commissioner (South) 044-26640224


Regional Deputy Commissioner (Central) 044-24425981

Why the need for such stringent measures?

According to G Prakash, Commissioner of Chennai Corporation, such measures have been put in place since the nature of the crisis that is being dealt with calls for it. COVID-19 is an invisible illness, whose transmission from person to person requires to be eliminated through proper care and precautions to be taken while engaging in any activity. The stringent norms are meant to ensure that there is be no overcrowding and any contamination is prevented, since even a small lapse could cause the spread.

Can political parties use their flags/banners/logos on relief materials?

Political parties engaged in relief work are not allowed to use their banners, flags, logos or photographs in the relief materials.

If you are unable to step out but would still like to contribute, here is a list of entities you can donate to for ration and other essentials. 

Excerpts from the Government Order dated 13.4.2020 on distribution of relief by NGOs and volunteers

While commending the exemplary work done by the volunteers and NGOs during natural disasters like Tsunami, floods, vardah and okhi cyclone, the Government has stated that the pandemic situation is a different one.  The state government has now clarified that it is only in good faith that it has imposed restrictions in distribution of the necessary supplies by the NGOs and volunteers, in line with the prohibitory orders under Section 144 of the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC).

NGOs who would like to distribute relief supplies, cooked food or vegetables can do so through the district administration. Volunteers can work in coordination with the district administration or the district collectors as required.  The Government has sought co-operation from individuals, volunteers and NGOs in this regard.

It has also stated that about 2500 organizations and over 58,000 volunteers have already registered with the state government through stopcorona.tn.gov.in to extend support along with the district administration by following public health norms and distancing.

It also clarified that the Government’s intention is not to stop aid but to extend relief through appropriate and safe means, considering the prevailing pandemic situation. 

The Government has clarified that it is only asking voluntary organizations, volunteers and individuals to work along with the district administration adhering to safety measures and has requested everyone to cooperate with the Government’s effort to contain the spread of coronavirus.

[Compiled by Aruna Natarajan and Sandhya Raju]

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