All the twelve Open Market Sale (OMS) outlets in the town have remained closed since the beginning of January this year as they are yet to get fresh allocation of ata (coarse flour), depriving the beneficiaries, mostly low-income group people, from purchasing the item at fair price.
As a result, the ultra-poor people in the area are compelled to buy ata from the local markets at a high price.
Nearly 2,000 to 2,500 low-income group people from the slums, char and remote areas buy ata from 12 OMS outlets in the town everyday.
Although each beneficiary can buy 1 to 5 kg of ata at Tk 18 per kg from the OMS outlets, they are now buying each kg of the item at Tk 30 from the local markets.
Rickshaw puller Asgor Ali, 42, of Shaheed Shahjahan Colony in the town, said he used to purchase ata from the OMS outlet to maintain his family properly earlier, but now he is deprived of the facility as all the OMS outlets are closed.
Demanding reopening of the OMS outlets, day labourer Majid Mia, 48, of Khatamari village in Sadar upazila, said “OMS ata helps us to save Tk 10 to Tk 12 in each kg of the item, but it is stopped now.”
Grocer Anwar Hossain of Uttara Road in the town said he used to sell each kg of ata at Tk 26 to Tk 27 only a month ago when the OMS outlets were open, but now he is selling the item at a high rate as he purchases it from the flour mill at a high price.
An OMS dealer in Banbhasa area of the town Abdur Rahim said all the enlisted 12 OMS dealers get a total allotment of 5,000 kg of ata everyday, adding that, “We are keeping our outlets closed for not getting our required allotments.”
Talking to The Daily Star, Nilphamari District Food Controller Kazi Saifuddin, who is also performing additional duty as Lalmonirhat District Food Controller, said the OMS facility is suspended for a few days due to a delay in processing of papers.
“I have already sent all the necessary documents to the ministry concerned and hope that the OMS facility will reopen next week,” he added.