Flash Flood-Hit Sunamganj: OMS programme tainted by graft | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, May 11, 2017 / LAST MODIFIED: 01:04 AM, May 11, 2017

Flash Flood-Hit Sunamganj: OMS programme tainted by graft

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Corruption and irregularities by ruling party men and their relatives appointed as dealers of Open Market Sale have caused the food assistance programme to be less effective in alleviating the misery of flood victims in Sunamganj.

Local people and people's representatives have also brought allegations of irregularities in the listing of people for Vulnerable Group Feeding programme and cash distribution programme.

The government on Monday expanded the OMS operation to 110 points, including one in each of 88 unions in the district, to improve the situation following reports on people queuing up before OMS centres for long and returning home empty handed. 

But then there are allegations of nepotism that mostly ruling party men and their relatives got the job of selling subsidised food grains.

Already, the dealership of Purnendu Sarkar Rony, a local Jubo League leader of Rafinagar union, has been cancelled for accusations against him of trying to sell OMS rice in the market on May 6, said Derai Upazila Nirbahi Officer Towhiduzzaman Pavel.

The UNO received another complaint of irregularities against Mosharraf Mia, mayor of Derai municipality and joint general secretary of the local Awami League. 

Tahirpur Upazila Chairman Kamruzzaman Kamrul said corruption and irregularities had increased in haor areas due to the appointment of AL leaders as OMS dealers and for the job of listing people for the distribution of VGF cards. 

For example, he cited that seven dealers in seven unions of Tahirpur upazila were from the ruling party.

Akmol Hosain, chairman of Jagannathpur upazila, said all of the OMS dealers in eight unions of the upazila belonged to the local Awami League and pro-AL youth body Jubo League.

Mohammad Masum Billah, UNO of the same upazila, said there were 60 applicants seeking dealership.

“The committee nominated eight of them through scrutiny. If there is any complaint, there will be a thorough investigation.”

Chairman of Sunamganj district council Nurul Huda justified appointing dealers based on political affiliation, saying, “It is not a new practice. All ruling parties [the party in power at a given time] do the same.”

Faruqee Mahmud Chowdhury, president of Shushasoner Jonno Nagorik, Sylhet chapter, told this correspondent that flood-affected people became more vulnerable amid the misuse of power.

Government officials can play a vital role in stopping the corruption, he added.

Complaints have been filed of irregularities also in preparing the list for VGF and cash assistance programmes in Derai upazila.

Victims in Chondipur filed a complaint against the mayor of Derai municipality.

Supporters of the mayor on May 4 attacked Foyez Uddin, who had complained against him, on his way home in upazila town. 

The 50-year-old, of Chondipur village, was seriously injured and has been receiving treatment at Sylhet MAG Osmani Medical College Hospital.

Miadhon Mia, councillor of ward no-1, said the list of victims made at first was changed by the municipal mayor.

However, Mayor Mosharraf Mia refuted the allegations.

Regarding the attack, he said some people had tried to obstruct government's relief distribution. 

“BCL-Jubo League men went to inquire about the matter. They didn't beat up anyone.”

Towhiduzzaman, UNO of Derai upazila, admitted to receiving written complaints of irregularities in making the VGF list.

“Necessary action will be taken after investigation,” he said.

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