Food depots in rural Jumla without rice since a decade: Locals
December 28, 2016 08:56 AM NPT
By: DB Buda
People forced to buy rice at higher price
JUMLA, Dec 28: Rice depots in Jumlakot and Dhapa of Jumla district have been left without rice for over a decade. Although such depots were established to ease supply of rice to the locals, they are forced to buy rice at more expensive rate from the market in lack of functional depots.
Those depots are supposed to get up to 15 quintals of rice each year. But locals have no idea where the rice they are entitled to ends up. Even the buildings of the depots are in deteriorating condition as they remain unutilized for years.
“We are completely unaware about what happens to the rice that is supposed to be in the depot,” said Hansha Basnet, a local of Jumlakot. “Rice hasn't reached our depot since 2003.”
According to him, there were rumors in the village last August that the depot would finally get rice, but the situation remained the same.
“Contractors and local businesspersons are involved in making coveted deals related to rice. Hence, the depot always remains empty,” he added.
As a result, consumers of rural areas in the district have had to suffer. They have no other choice but to buy rice from local markets at more expensive price. Locals have accused community leader Hansha Basnet and contractors of Nepal Food Corporation (NFC) of being involved in backdoor trading of the depot's rice.
According to locals, even when the depot receives rice it is in very small quantity that cannot fulfill the demands of the local. To add to the woes, the quality of rice is very low, and it can be used only for making local alcoholic drinks.
Back in the days when the depot in Jumlakot was functional, it used to supply rice to even locals of Malikathota and Ghodemahadev VDCs. Likewise, depot in Dhapa used to supply rice to 11 VDCs in the district. But, at present, neither there is rice at the depot, nor does the depot building have any employees.
“Rice depot of Jumlakot has been idle for years,” said Kamal Raj Gharti, VDC secretary of Malikathota.
Jumla's NFC chief, Rana Bahadur Ayer, however, claims that contract has been made for supplying 500 quintals of rice from Surkhet for this year. Contrary to the statements of the locals, he also claimed that these depots have been receiving rice every year.