BIRENDRANAGAR, April 11: Stating that the rice distributed by the local government is not edible, some locals in Birendranagar have returned it. Birendranagar Municipality – 10 had recently distributed rice, salt, oil and pulses to over a dozen families in Manikapur block of the ward. According to the beneficiaries, the rice was rotten and stinking.
"How to eat such rice? It was rotten," said one of the beneficiaries, Sahabir Pun. "We then decided to return it," he said, adding that his family is indeed facing a food crisis at the moment.
Balaram Sharma, member of 'Manikapur Block Development Committee' confirmed that the families returned the rice as it was substandard. "Sixteen families had received it, but the rice was not edible. So, that was returned," he said.
In view of the lockdown imposed by the government amid the risks of the spread of novel coronavirus, local administrations have been asked to provide essential relief to the poor. The ward had brought rice from Food Management and Supply Company of Surkhet, which has however already started to replace the rice.
Talking to Republica, Bhim Thapa, chief of the company, said that new packets of rice have been sent off. "The new rice is of good quality so there will be no complaint," he said. However, he dismissed the charge that the rice supplied earlier was not edible. "We had not provided poor quality rice even earlier," he said.
According to him, the packets were replaced only because the beneficiaries did not like them. "Or else, some people want to have rather aged rice than fresh rice.'
The company stated that the packed rice could be consumed within two years. And what was supplied was not expired.
On the other hand, the ward chairperson Ratna Budha expressed ignorance over the expiry date of the relief packages. He said that the date was not checked before distribution of those packets. "We started distributing the packets as soon as they arrived," he said. Noticeably, the expiry date has not been clearly written on any rice sack that came as relief.
Locals have also complained about lesser amount of relief than announced by the government. Some others have complained of 'not being noticed by the government despite being poor'. A total of 600 families, most of them being daily wage earners, have received relief in the ward.
"They have been providing lesser quantities of oil and rice. The same is true about pulses," said Pun.