A flawed relief and rehabilitation programme has put more than 91,000 families in great distress in flood-hit Sunamganj district.
Government, in response to the sudden flood that washed away crops on more than two lakh hectors of land, decided to give food and monetary help to the victims until the harvest of crops in next season.
For this purpose, about 1.5 lakh families were enlisted for vulnerable group feeding (VGF) programme, keeping a total of 91,590 families out of its reach as they were getting food support under the government’s fare price sale (FPS) of rice programme which was scheduled to be ended by April 2017.
‘Disaster management and relief minister Mofazzal Hossain Chowdhury Maya assured us that all of the relief and food support programmes will continue until the farmers harvest their next crops, but now the administration goes back on its pledge and stops the FPS programme,’ said Sukhair Rajapur Uttar union council chairman Farhad Ahmad.
The clients of the government’s fare price sale (FPS) of rice programme have been availing an advantage of consuming up to 30 kilograms of rice at Tk 10 per kg since last year.
They were enlisted for a year and got the opportunity in two phases— first one was from September to October 2016 and second one was from March to April 2017.
District food office said on Wednesday that the FPS of rice programme had been launched under the government’s food programme to support the country’s poverty-stricken farmers.
‘The programme, however, expired on April 30 and the department cannot continue it as it has not received any order for the extension of the programme from the higher authorities,’ said Sunamganj food controller Zakaria Mostafa.
When contacted, Sunamganj deputy commissioner Sheikh Rafiqul Islam said that they had already sent a proposal to the ministry concerned for extending the programme in flood-hit Sunamganj through an especial arrangement.
‘But, that is yet to be materialised,’ he said, adding that another proposal for the inclusion of one lakh more families under the VGF programme was also forwarded to the government.
More than 91,000 families, who are clients of the government’s fare price sale (FPS) of rice, are passing hard times.
The affected people, mostly are farmers, were not offered any other support despite repeated assurance from the government and local administration.
A sudden flood washed away crops, majority of those were standing boro rice, between March and April in the haor areas in north-eastern Bangladesh.
Kutub Uddin, a farmer of Khalishakanda village at Madhyanagar union under Dharmapasha upazila in the district, complained that he was not enlisted for the government’s 100-day vulnerable group feeding (VGF) programme, which offered 30 kilogram of rice and Tk 500 in cash in each month to each of 1.5 lakh families of the district from April 23 as he was already enrolled for FPS programme.
‘The end of FPS on April 30 throws my family into uncertainty. Acute employment crisis has been added to my great loss of boro cultivation this year,’ Kutub said.
Farhad Ahmad, chairman of Sukhair Rajapur Uttar union under Dharmapasha upazila of the district, said local government representatives like him were under pressure from the people to re‑launch the FPS of rice as soon as possible.
‘The government should resume the programme immediately in Sunamganj or expand the number of VGF programme to bring these families under the relief coverage,’ Farhad added.
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