JUMLA, Jan 13: The distribution of rotten rice by a Shreenagar-based government depot in Adanchuli Rural Municipality has enraged the locals. They have demanded a fair investigation into the matter and punishment for the culprits.
The government used to supply 1,500 to 2,000 quintals of rice each year to the depot.
Out of the 300 quintals of rice that arrived at this time of the year, only 100 quintals were distributed but many sacks among these were rotten, according to the locals who also said that they had no complaints about the depot before and this is the first time they have received the rice of poor quality.
The rice brought from the depot was of such poor quality that it couldn't be consumed, said Harka Bhandari of Adanchuli-2 who brought two sacks each of 30 kg. He further said, “Not providing rice of good quality to its people is a huge negligence by the state. I bought rice from the depot and at the time of preparing dinner, the whole sack of rice was found to be damaged by fungus. Then I was compelled to return it as such food's intake is harmful to health.”
According to the chief of the depot, Chandra Bahadhur Pun, four people have returned the rice sacks till now which was sold by the Food Management and Trading Company to the depot under the government's transportation grant. Pun blames the contractor, Nanda Mahatara, who is responsible for the transportation of rice, emphasizing no mistake on the part of the Food Management and Trading Company. Pun stated that the depot had no hands in selling bad quality rice as it was distributed soon after unloading there.
However, Mahatara doesn't accept any wrong on his part and accuses Nepal Food Corporation for this issue. He claims that he transported the rice from Food Management and Trading Company's Martadi Department to the depot without any adulteration.
The Consumer Protection Act has provisioned three to five years jail term or a fine of Rs 300,000 to 500,000 as the punishment for those who sell or distribute low-quality food. In this context, the chairman of Adanchuli Rural Municipality, Dal Fadera, said, “The selling of rotten rice has definitely brought problems. The staffers at the depot don't seem guilty. So either, it may be the fault of the contractor or the Food Management Office, the real culprit cannot escape as the necessary investigations are being carried out.”