The lion’s share of the government supports, including vulnerable group feeding, fair price sale and open market sale of rice, for the ultra-poor and farmers affected by the flash flood this year in Sunamganj is allegedly being grabbed by the influential and the well-off.
Local human rights and social welfare activists have claimed that most of the affected families have been deprived of government reliefs because of massive irregularity and nepotism committed by the local public representatives in making the lists in this regard.
Convener of Haor Banchaw Sunamganj Banchaw Andolan, a pressure group to meet the demands for local welfare, alleged that around 50 per cent of the flood-hit families, entitled to have the government reliefs, did not receive any supports.
The relief and disaster management ministry had taken the 100-day food programme to help the farmers whose standing boro crops were damaged in the early flash flood caused by excessive rainfall and onrush of hilly water from upstream region of India in late March.
More than 80 per cent of the half-ripe boro crop planted on 4,56,714 hector land in the division was damaged by the untimely flash flood that began towards the end of March due to heavy rainfall and onrush of water coming from upstream region across the border.
A total of 1.68 lakh families of farmers and fishermen of the district were brought under the VGF coverage that offers monthly 30 kg rice and Tk 500 in cash for each family for 100-days between April 21 and July 31.
Though the timeframe was extended until August 15, the ministry ordered continuation of the VGF programme until further directive in this regard.
Besides, 22,000 affected families of the ultra poor and marginalised farmers of the district were brought under the OMS programme which offers 5 kg rice at Tk 15 a kg through 110 selling points across the district.
The government had also launched the fair price sale programme that offers rice at Tk 10 kg for those who feel ashamed to stand in queue for the food grain offered under the VFG and OMS programmes, the administrative officials concerned said.
But, marginalised and ultra-poor farmers of different remote villages in the district have alleged that none of them received the government food supports so far.
Krishna Devanath of Dakkhinhati at village Adukhali at Palash union under Bishwamberpur in the district told New Age on Saturday that there last hope of earning were put out because of massive mortality of fishes in the wetland after his boro crop was damaged in April by excessive carbon dioxide gas from the rotten paddy under the floodwater.
‘The recent flash flood has badly damaged our thatched houses last week. But, we did not get any government relief so far,’ Krishna alleged.
Pravat Roy of Lalergaon at the Palash union alleged that local union council chairman and its members have distributed the cards of government reliefs to their relatives and supporters, depriving the affected people as they had no power to protest against these irregularity and nepotism.
Talking to New Age, ward 2 member of Palash union Abul Hossain, however, claimed that they tried their best to include the ultra-poor farmers on the list for relief.
‘But, all of the affected families could not be included for the food support programmes of the government since the number of people to be enlisted was limited,’ said Abul Hossain.
Palash union chairman Abdul Kayum said the lists for the government reliefs were prepared by elected members of the wards concerned.
When contacted, the district additional deputy commissioner, Kamruzzaman, however, claimed that they had strict watch over the relief distribution process.
‘Only 1.68 lakh out of 3.5 lakh affected families in the district have been brought under the coverage of food support programme,’ Kamruzzaman said, warning that stern action would be taken, if any allegation of irregularity was proved against anybody.
‘We are ready to reach the relief materials to the doorstep of flood-affected farmers if we are provided specific information about them,’ he claimed.
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