OMS List Anomaly: As weird as it gets | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, July 03, 2020 / LAST MODIFIED: 01:07 AM, July 03, 2020

OMS List Anomaly: As weird as it gets

Sunuj Ullah, Eshrak Mia, and Jamal Mia are the husbands of Mohesh Sarkar, Subol Sarkar and Kali Kanto Sarkar, respectively -- at least that's what a list of beneficiaries for a government food programme shows.

The list with 1,185 names was prepared in 2016 by Gajnaipur Union Parishad in Habiganj's Nobiganj upazila and then approved by the upazila food officer and upazila nirbahi officer (UNO).

The title on the third column of the list makes it look like all the beneficiaries, whether male or female, have husbands.

Not just this, the list also includes names of dead and non-existent people. Yet, it has been used in Gajnaipur union for the last four years.

The ultra-poor people on this list from Gajnaipur's 33 villages are supposed to receive 30kg of OMS (open market sale) rice at Tk 10 per kg four to five times a year under the government's food-friendly programme.

DEAD ON THE LIST

Hamdu Mia of Gajnaipur's Kandigaon village died in 2014, but is still on the list at serial number 420.

His wife Hamida Begum said, "The OMS list was made after my husband died. Although his name is still on that list, I have never received OMS rice in the last four years."

Likewise, Hafiz Mia and Moazzim Mia of Kandigaon are also on the list although they died two to three years ago, said Jahed Ahmed Chowdhury, a member of Gajnaipur Union Parishad.

Upon the UP chairman's request, Jahed had submitted 50 names from his ward, which includes Kandigaon, for enlistment under the food-friendly programme. Hafiz and Moazzim's names were not among those 50, he claimed.

Some people do not even know they are on the list.

Sau Mia, 35, of Kandigaon said the UP chairman had refused to include him for the OMS rice, even after repeated requests in the last couple of years.

However, his name has been in the list since 2016 at serial number 1165, and he came to know about this from a secret source only two weeks ago.

"Yet, for all these years I never received any OMS rice," Sau said on June 24.

Names of some people appear more than once on the list. For example, Sataihal village's Kuti Mia's name comes up against serial number 666, 680, 720, 1073. Similarly, at least 50 beneficiaries appear more than once on the list.

The Daily Star also found at least eight beneficiaries of the Hindu community with the surname "Sarkar", between serial number 499 to 506, from Taralia village. 

But Taralia villagers told this correspondent that no Hindu person with the surname ever lived in the village.

Rather members of the Hindu "Gope" clan live in Taralia, which falls under UP member Syed Mahbub Ali Nuru's ward.

Mahbub said he did not provide the names of the people with the surname of "Sarkar" for the food programme.

"Only three people in Taralia receive OMS rice, though I have seen 22 names from this village on the list," he said. 

The people involved in the list making had embezzled rice using fake names, he added.

Gajnaipur UP Chairman Imdadur Rahman Mukul, who is also the president of Nobiganj upazila Awami League, said the list was not checked after printing.

He, however, claimed that the list was updated in the last four years but as the chairman he did not do the "file work" properly.

"That was my mistake," he admitted.

Nobiganj UNO Biswajit Kumar Paul told this correspondent on June 24 that this list was initially prepared in 2016 and later some changes were made. But a complete update was not done every year.

He said, "I had asked them to properly update the list this year but Gajnaipur [UP] did not do so."

"We do not get a lot of time so we often approve the lists the unions send to us," admitted Biswajit, who joined as the UNO last year.

He said when they heard about the irregularities, a verification committee was formed with two tag officers and one teacher from each ward of Gajnaipur. The tag officers will submit a report on the quantity of rice being embezzled using fake beneficiaries. 

Another three-member committee was formed to investigate those involved in preparing this list, he said.  

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