Victims not getting rice meant for them
The sack of rice supposed to be given to her has been taken by political leaders of her neighbourhood in Rangamati.
Fatima Begum, 45, affected badly in the landslide that claimed at least 118 lives, broke down in tears at Bangladesh Betar shelter yesterday when she was told that someone already took her rice.
She, along with 130 others, has been living at the shelter at Ward-6 of the town after their neighbourhood Natun Para was devastated in the landslide.
These correspondents met at least 20 people at the shelter also said their rice, a 30 kg sack for each, was misappropriated by leaders of local Awami League, who are also leaders of Society Development Committee.
They said the sacks were eventually given to close relatives and neighbours -- some of whom are less affected -- of the political leaders while those affected really bad didn't get anything.
Another woman alleged that the owner of her rented house picked up her sack, saying that he feared that she might not be able to pay the house rent for June and July.
Meanwhile, around 330 people who now live in Bangladesh Open University Shelter could not have lunch as the meal supplied by the authorities was unpalatable, alleged people living at the centre and sources at the administration.
Such allegations were found in other places too. In Ward-1, the authorities found a list of affected persons with twice as many names as those actually affected. The administration blamed a BNP Ward Councilor Helal Uddin for this and warned him of actions. He couldn't be reached for comments despite repeated attempts.
"Out of 70 names in the list, we found 49 to be fake. Some of the persons and addresses listed there do not even exist. Besides, 23 people who were affected really bad, were not included," Prakash Dey, an assistant sub-inspector of police who, along with fire fighters and locals, visited the spot, told an executive magistrate.
To combat such corruption, the authorities have decided to prepare a new list of affected people involving executive magistrates, police and local elected representatives.
The leaders, who were allegedly involved in the irregularities blamed each other.
Tajul Islam, former president of Natun Para Social Development Committee said he only took one sack of rice in the name of his relative and blamed other leaders for the misappropriation.
Abdul Hai, president of the committee, said he took a sack of rice as he too was affected. "What you are pointing out is correct. They did not listen to me. They prepared that list as they wished and gave rice accordingly."
A ruling party leader of the area Md Hasan said he took a sack rice for himself and another for his brother.
Locals told The Daily Star that none of these people were affected badly in the landslide.
Noresh Majumder, joint secretary of Ward-6 unit of AL said some misappropriation took place in his ward. "Knowing this, the mayor assured us of giving relief to those who were deprived earlier."
Local ward Councilor Rabi Mohon Chakma termed the incidents very sad and promised to steps to this end.
Contacted, Rangamati Municipality Mayor Md Akbar Hossain Chowdhury said he was looking into the matter. "I stopped relief distribution in some places because of this. Now we are preparing new lists with the district administration to make sure that no one is deprived."
He added that actions would be taken against the persons responsible.
District administration officials Syed Mahbubul Haque, executive magistrate and SM Monjurul Hoque, assistant commissioner (land), said they were verifying the lists with police and local elected representatives. Mahbubul added that he would report to the deputy commissioner about the perpetrators.
Contacted, DC Mohammad Manzurul Mannan told The Daily Star that an additional Tk 1 crore and 400 metric tonnes of rice were allocated for affected people. Relief would reach the people who didn't get anything yet.
He added around 100 sanitary toilets were set up in the 19 shelters. A 500 litre water tank has been installed in each centre. Besides, every family has been given a 10 litre water bottle for storing drinking water.
The DC who visited shelters said he discouraged people and groups to bring food reliefs for the victims in a haphazard way and urged them to give clothes.
He said road communications would be established in a couple of days.