Contractors selling subsidised rice in Rukum (East) due to lack of employees in depotsLocals say the problem has persisted for years due to the government-run Food Management and Trade Company’s apathy.
Every year, the government-run Food Management and Trade Company allocates certain quotas of subsidised rice for Rukumkot and Takasera in Rukum (East).
Contractors are selected to transport this subsidised rice to remote villages. But due to the lack of employees in the depots of the Food Management and Trade Company, contractors themselves are selling the rice in the villages—and this has become a problem for the villagers.
This year, the Food Management and Trade Company Ltd has allocated 500 quintals of rice for Takasera and 700 quintals of rice for Rukumkot in the first phase of the fiscal year.
“The problem is that contractors stay in the villages only for a few days,” said Daribhan Budha, a local of Sisne Rural Municipality Ward No. 4. It becomes a problem for the local people because they are forced to buy the rice whenever the contractors are in their villages, irrespective of whether they can afford it or not.
At the depots, Mota rice comes at Rs 3,800 per quintal and Sona Mansuli at Rs 4,600 per quintal in Rukumkot. The same quantity of rice costs around Rs 4,200 (Mota rice) and Rs 5,200 (Sona Mansuli) in the bazaar areas—the cost difference is huge for the people in these villages. In Takasera, the company sells Sona Mansuli at Rs 4,700 per quintal whereas the same quantity of rice costs around Rs 5,500 per quintal in local shops.
Villagers in these remote parts of Rukumkot and Taksera say that the problem has arisen due to the ignorance of the Food Management and Trade Company. For example, there’s a depot of the company in Shobha village in Rukumkot, but it hasn’t had an employee for the last 19 years.
Rapti Bahusewa Pvt Ltd is the contractor responsible to transport rice in Rukumkot, whereas MB builders is responsible to transport rice in Takasera. Rice needs to be transported from Bhairahawa to Takasera and Tulasipur (Dang) to Rukumkot. In the last fiscal year, the company has sold only 200 quintals (out of 1,500 quintals of allocated quota) in Rukumkot and 500 quintals (out of 1,000 quintals of allocated quota) in Takasera.
Rukumkot and Takasera fall under Rukum (East) territory, but currently the branch of Food Management and Trade Company Ltd in Rukum (West) looks after the management and transportation of subsidised rice in Rukumkot and Takasera.
Chandra Bahadur Khadka, chief at the branch office, admitted that they have been facing problems to transport rice in the depots due to lack of employees and infrastructures. He said, “Although contractors are selling rice in the remote areas themselves, they cannot deceive locals while selling rice. We have instructed them to sell rice at a fixed amount.”
According to him, the subsidised rice is being transported in the presence of the District Administration Office, the District Police Office, and the Ward Office along with people’s representatives.
Locals are also demanding a branch office of the Food Management and Trade Company Ltd be opened in Rukumkot, along with depots in Takasera and Ranmamaikot. “In the last fiscal year, the District Food Committee had requested the company to establish a branch office in Rukumkot and depots in Takasera and Ranmamaikot, but to no avail,” said Khadka.