Yunus Ali Akand saw a ray of hope when the government had launched a food-provision programme for ultra poor people like him. The initiative would allow him to buy 30kg rice at Tk10 per kg a month during dry season, as he has to struggle to survive along with his family during five lean months – March, April, September, October and November.
But, it seems to him that his sufferings are not going to end, as he could not avail the fair price food ration card, whereas Md Atowar Rahman, owner of 2.5-hectare of land of the same village, has been "allotted" one.
Both of the aforementioned men are residents of Idilpur village under Idilpur union in Sadullahpur upazila of Gaibandha.
When Yunus went to the Union Chairman Rabbi Abdullah Rion to get his card, he was told that no cards were issued in his name.
Nozmol Hossain, another poor peasant of the same village, alleged that he also had not got the card though his name was in the list.
“When I went to the chairman for my card he told me that somebody had taken my card. But, he told me that he did not know who it was,” Nozmol added.
Badsha Mia, a peasant of Kunjamahipur village, said he was also deprived of the card.
The chairman told him that this year no card was issued in his name.
Under the new social safety net scheme, a total of 1300 cards had been allotted for 1300 ultra poor families of the union in September, said Deputy-assistant Agriculture Officer of the union Waliur Rahman.
There are allegations that well-off families of the locality have received most of the cards, while around 25% of the cards are yet to be distributed.
According to locals, 25% of the cards are sold to middlemen who purchase rice at Tk10 per kg with the cards.
They also alleged that Chairman Rabbi also helped his cousin Nakir Reza Khokon to get a dealership.
Nakir’s shop is just 0.5km away from another dealer Zillur Rahman’s shop at Madarhat in ward No 1 in the union.
As the two dealers’ shops are adjacent, people of Ekbarpur, Chandipur, Alipur, Chaknadi, Dharai, Nishchintopur, Kabilpur and Shonatola Mouza under ward No 3 have to come from a distance of 8-9km.
Furthermore, locals purchasing rice from Nakir’s shop complained that they received 25-26kg rice instead of 30kg.
A written complaint signed by around 70 people of the union was sent to the upazila nirbahi (executive) officer (UNO) on Wednesday.
UNO Md Ahsan Habib told the Dhaka Tribune that he had received the letter.
“We will take actions after conducting the investigations,” said Ahsan.
The chairman said there were some irregularities in the distribution of the cards, which would be resolved later.