Graft eats away rice supply for poor
Allegations have arisen against the chairmen and their relatives in Sunamganj district's Rajanagor and Rofinagar union that they are depriving the affected farmers of rice allocated to them under the Vulnerable Group Feeding (VGF) programme. We understand that complaints have been filed with the Union Nirbahi Officer (UNO) on the question of money being demanded from flood-affected farmers to get enlisted on the VGF list. We hope the concerned UNO will launch a thorough investigation and put a stop to the alleged profiteering. The VGF programme is of utmost importance to the government's rural safety net, and given the massive floods in the haor areas this year that has adversely affected thousands of farmers; we certainly hope authorities will not turn a blind eye to these very serious allegations of graft.
The allegation of VGF rice ending up in the retail for sale does not happen magically; it happens when a section of the grassroots local administration gets involved in diverting government-allotted rice (OMS) from the target groups in a bid to make windfall profits. We witness such incidents whenever a natural disaster strikes any part of the country. The whole idea of VGF is to alleviate the suffering of most vulnerable groups in the aftermath of such disasters.
This year the flooding in the north was particularly severe and now entire communities are not facing simply hardship but malnutrition too. We have been informed that the deputy commissioner of Sunamganj has stated on record that he will not stand for any irregularities with regards to the distribution of VGF cards and OMS rice and can only hope his resolve and action will filter down the administrative hierarchy to put an end to this unethical practice.