Rice, earlier distributed to a few union parishad (UP) chairmen of Hakimpur upazila of Dinajpur under test relief (TR) project, is returning again to the government warehouses of Hakimpur upazila food office during the ongoing boro procurement drive, thanks to corrupt practices of some officials.
Hakimpur upazila food control department signed agreement with 20 rice millers to procure 821 tonnes of rice during the three-month procurement drive from June 1 to August 30 and the department has already procured 450 tonnes, officials said.
The amount includes at least 81 tonnes of rice of previous boro season, sources said.
According to the official sources, the food department of Hakimpur upazila signed an agreement with Yousuf Husking Mill, Mondal Husking Mill and Gulzar Husking Mill of Hakimpur upazila despite knowing these mills were non-functional.
The mill operators purchased the rice of TR projects of Alihat, Khatramadhabpur and Boaldar unions of Hakimpur upazila of Dinajpur in different times before the rice procurement drive started.
As usual, the rice of TR project for the three unions have been sold off to pay for development work there, said the UP chairmen concerned.
A local influential man of Hakimpur purchased the rice of different projects including TR and food for work project and millers later purchased the rice from him, sources said.
As per rule, rice meant for TR projects can be sold to pay in cash for development works but the rice of food for work project has to be directly given as payment to the beneficiary workers.
Md Abdur Rahim, project implementation office (PIO) of Hakimpur upazila of Dinajpur, said his office allocated and distributed 70 tonnes of rice among the chairmen of three union parishads in the upazila till April this year.
According to the local witnesses, the aforesaid rice millers purchased the rice from the UP chairmen, then put it into the sacks with print of the names of their own mills and again supplied it to Hakimpur upazila food department during the procurement drive this season.
"We protested supply of such old rice but became helpless as high officials signed the agreement with the mills despite knowing everything," said an officer seeking anonymity.
The owners of these rice mills claimed that those are functional and the allegation of supplying old rice is baseless.
Sources, however, said such old rice is stored at the warehouse of Hakimpur food office. At least 400 sacks of rice (each containing 75 kg) piled up at Column 6, 200 sacks on column-2 and 480 sacks on column-4 of the warehouse after the officials procured them.
Contacted, Fazlul Haque, upazila food controller of Hakimpur, said he was sick and could not talk regarding the matter.