The government will distribute 20 kg rice and Tk 2,500 cash to each of the 1.25 crore destitute families across the country today based on a database finalised on May 7, state minister for disaster management Md Enamur Rahaman told New Age on Sunday.
He said that the database was developed taking information from the union digital centres and ward digital centres after being instructed by prime minister Sheikh Hasina for smooth and transparent relief distribution.
‘No corruption would take place while distributing relief based on the database,’ Enamur Rahaman claimed.
The law enforcers, however, had earlier arrested many representatives of local government bodies and ruling party Awami League leaders for misappropriating relief materials.
Amid criticism, the food ministry suspended its open market sale or OMS programme through which rice was made available at a cheap rate.
Local government and rural development ministry suspended 49 representatives of the local government bodies, including 18 union parishad chairmen, 29 UP members, one zila parishad member and another municipality councillor for their involvement in misappropriation of relief materials.
In random interviews, many destitute families claimed that they were not aware of any database and had been suffering from poverty and hunger since the government-declared holiday in March.
‘I am not aware of such programme taken by the government even though I am finding it difficult to maintain my four-member family,’ said Abdul Jalil, a building painter from Madartek.
The local ward councillor Golam Hossain claimed he gave four kilograms of rice to each destitute family once in the past two months.
‘The councillor distributes relief to his followers or to those who are recommended by the influential locals,’ Jalil said, adding that there had been no announcement from the councillor asking them to apply to be included on the database of the destitute.
‘I am somehow surviving with little donations from rich neighbours,’ he said.
Like Jalil many other workers of the informal sectors living in Mugda, Dholpur, Badda, Mohammadpur said that some got relief just once while other did not receive anything at all.
A resident of Mohammadpur preferring anonymity claimed that the councillor for the reserved seat of Dhaka North City Corporation Kawsar Jahan demanded Tk 2,500 for inclusion of her name on the database.
Kawsar Jahan denied the allegation and said that she gave list of 200 families, including 100 from ward No 30, after being instructed by the ‘higher authorities’.
‘There was a ceiling for inclusion of number of families on the database and you cannot satisfy all with limited facilities,’ she said.
Dhaka South City Corporation ward No 4 councilor Md Golam Hossain denied similar allegations and claimed that he got very little amount of relief to be distributed in a densely populated area where the number of poor is high.
State minister Emanur Rahaman said that people in need can still apply to be included on the database.
‘Besides, the distribution of relief by the representatives of the local government would continue to cover those who would be left out,’ he said.
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