Published: Friday, March 22, 2013

Hard-pressed hardly reap OMS benefit

Sahera Bewa, 68, of Char Kalmati in Lalmonirhat Sadar upazila gives a bleak look as outlets for open market sale of 'fair priced' rice, meant for poor people like her, are too far away from her house. PHOTO: STAR

Sahera Bewa, 68, of Char Kalmati in Lalmonirhat Sadar upazila gives a bleak look as outlets for open market sale of ‘fair priced’ rice, meant for poor people like her, are too far away from her house. PHOTO: STAR

The ongoing open market sale (OMS) of rice for fair prices hardly comes to any benefit for the ultra poor people of remote villages in the Teesta and Dharla basin areas under the district as all the 12 OMS outlets started on March 18 are in Lalmonirhat town.

Following issuance of letters from the authorities concerned, 12 OMS dealers are selling the staple food at Tk 24 per kg at the 12 outlets and 10 tonnes of rice has been allocated the purpose, said sources at Lalmonirhat District Food Control Department.

Now a kg of the same category rice sells at Tk 27 to 28 in the local market.

“The government has given OMS facility for the ultra poor people, but it is being enjoyed by town dwellers while we at remote char villages are deprived of it,” said Morzuna Begum, 55, a resident of Bagdora village in a Teesta river basin char (landmass emerged from riverbed) in Lalmonirhat Sadar upazila.

“It is difficult for poor people like me to purchase rice at government fixed price from OMS centres in Lalmonirhat town as it is about 15 kilometres away,” said Sahera Bewa, 68, a resident of Char Kalmati village in the same upazila.

“We the low income people are worst sufferers due to rice price hike. If we get the OMS facility, it would be of great help to our family,” said Azizar Rahman, 45, a day labourer at Boalmari village on the basin of Dharla River in Lalmonirhat Sadar.

Mofazzol Hossain, chairman of Rajpur union parishad in Lalmonirhat Sadar upazila, said he personally requested the government food official to open OMS centres in his union as most of the people there are victims of flood and erosion by the Teesta River but to no effect.

Poor people from remote villages and char areas can hardly purchase rice at government fixed rate at the OMS centres in the town, as they have to walk a long distance for the purpose, said Golam Mostafa, an OMS dealer in Mogholhat union of Lalmonirhat Sadar.

“There is no plan at present to open OMS centres at remote char villages in the district. I hope the high officials concerned will soon give permission to sufficient number of dealers to open OMS centres to sell rice at the government fixed rate at different places, especially char areas where people need it most,” said District Food Controller Zohurul Haque.