Some public representatives keep misappropriating rice meant for vulnerable group feeding and Open Market Sale (OMS) projects while the country is struggling with novel coronavirus crisis amid a shutdown.
Law enforcers and local administrations have revealed a number of such incidents and recovered the relief material. Most of the incidents suggest that local Awami League leaders are involved in rice theft.
A ruling party man was fined Tk2.15 lakh in Bogura while police recovered 170 sacks of rice in Naogaon on Tuesday night. Meanwhile, allegation run rife against a Cox's Bazar's BNP union parishad chairman who politicised relief operations.
The theft has reached such a level that the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) has decided to monitor the situation and bring people involved in misappropriation to book.
Moreover, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on March 31 said she would not tolerate any corruption in relief distribution.
The Business Standard's district correspondents report in detail.
Bogura AL leader fined Tk2.15 lakh
An Awami League leader of Bogura's Gabtali upazila has lost his food programme dealership and has been fined Tk2.15 lakh.
The accused, Abdul Wazed Hosen, is the Awami League president of Mahishaban union.
He tried to misappropriate 100 sacks of rice meant to be sold at Tk10 per kg to the poor under the government food programme, said Gabtali upazila Food Officer Harun-Or Rashid.
The food officer said, "Abdul Wazed has been fined Tk2.15 lakh — double the cost 100 sacks of rice. His dealership has been cancelled too."
Harun told the media that the accused will have to pay the fine within seven working days. Otherwise, legal action will be taken against him.
170 sacks of rice recovered from Naogaon
Naogaon upazila administration recovered a total of 170 sacks of rice after raiding the home of a dealer and a local Awami League leader on Tuesday night.
Police say that local OMS dealer Abu Sayeed and his brother-in-law Abdur Rauf are on the run since the raid.
Naogaon Sadar Upzila Nirbahi Officer Abdullah Al Mamun said they sent the seized 170 sacks weighing around 5,100-kilogram of rice to the Naogaon police station. Legal action will be taken against the duo.
Local people say that Abdur Rauf is a union level Awami League leader while Abu Sayeed is the nephew of the district's Barshail union parishad chairman.
Cox's Bazar union parishad chairman politicises relief operations
Abul Kalam, the chairman of Islampur Union Parishad under the coastal district of Cox's Bazar allegedly distributed government relief saying that these were from his personal funds and from the BNP.
He allegedly also did not provide relief material to the people of ward number 7 because the ward member is an Awami League leader.
The ward member Idris said that nearly 80 percent of the people in his area are poor, and that the politicisation of the relief effort has pushed the people into further trouble.
"I have informed the Cox's Bazar sadar upazila Nirbahi office," said the ward member.
Meanwhile, Chairman Abul Kalam said he did not distribute relief in ward 7 because the people received aid from a non-government organisation.
"I supplemented the government-provided relief goods with more material bought with party and individual funds," claimed the chairman.