Government decides to suspend relief distribution

Experts demand continuation in transparent way

Ershad Kamol | Published: 00:41, Jun 10,2020


Disaster management ministry has decided to suspend the countrywide relief distribution programme it has been running for the past three months since March among the needy families.

As people regained purchasing power following the withdrawal of holiday declared for the coronavirus outbreak, the ministry decided to end relief distribution.

Relief would only be distributed in the hotspot areas the government is planning to place under fresh lockdown, said officials.   

‘There is no need for distributing nationwide relief anymore as people resumed their works after the withdrawal of the general holiday from this month,’ state minister for disaster management Md Enamur Rahaman told New Age on Tuesday.

‘We don’t get requests for relief from the deputy commissioners or representatives of the local government bodies anymore,’ Enam said.

The last time relief materials were disbursed was on last Thursday, he said, adding that so far the ministry distributed 22,000 tonnes of rice, Tk 90.16 crore in cash for purchasing essentials and Tk 23.94 crore for purchasing food for the children among the needy families through the local government representatives.

‘Through mobile banking, the prime minister also distributed Tk 2,500 to each of the 50,00,000 hardcore poor families using the database of  1.25 crore poor families developed during the COVID-19 outbreak,’ he added.

Many informal sector workers living in Dhaka told New Age on Wednesday that they did not get any government relief and were spending measurable days for they had been jobless since March.

‘I didn’t get any relief and am surviving with the family with the aid of some philanthropists and by borrowing money,’ said Abdul Halim, a jobless carpenter from Madartek.

He said that his name was not included to the database as the ward councillor included names of only people of his choice.

Public health experts said that the government should review the holiday decision and impose lockdown in hotspot zones and continue the nationwide relief programme transparently as cases of infection and casualties caused by COVID-19 were on the rise.

‘When a hardcore capitalist country like the US is continuing relief programmes in the greater public interest, why won’t Bangladesh government continue its relief programme? It must continue and at the same time we want to see people are brought to book for misappropriation of money and relief materials allocated for the poor,’ public health expert professor Quazi Quamruzzaman said. 

In the backdrop of the deteriorating COVID-19 situation, health ministry additional secretary Habibur Rahman Khan said the government within the next two days would declare zone-based lockdown.

‘But, we have not yet decided on the procedure of distributing food in those areas. One group favours providing relief when another group suggested that food be distributed in the affected areas using vans so that people can easily purchase,’ he said.

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