No rice supply leaves Bajura villagers high and dry

BAJURA: Apparently the nine per cent growth in paddy output or abundance of rain -- as per the statistics revealed by Prime Minister Oli at the Federal Parliament -- have not come to help the denizens in Bajura’s remote settlements of Himali Rural Municipality.

After a break down in supply because of supplier’s inability to deliver subsidised rice in stipulated time, Himali Rural Municipality has been reeling under food shortages and denizens say they will now have to rely on Sisno (nettle leaves) to live through the day.

“The supply contractor had signed the agreement to deliver rice at Kawadi Depot on September 2018. But the supplier has not restocked the depot yet leading to an acute food shortage in the region,” Himal Rural Municipality Chair Ammalal Karki said.

According to locals, around 4,000 residents of Bichhiya in the remote outskirts of Bajura district have been left in a lurch by the supplier who has failed to provide the region with government subsidised rice. The local production lasts barely two months and the denizens rely on subsidised rice for the rest of the year.

“I walked two days to arrive at Kawadi Depot to fetch rice but I am returning to the village without a single grain,” Junkala Budha of Bichhiya said, “with no rice in the kitchen, my family must now gather and eat Sisno, and till when we do not know.”

Himali is the most remote rural municipality in Bajura district and denizens of the farthest settlement in the municipality travel over a week to reach district headquarters in Martadi.

Another Himali Rural Municipality local, Chandra Bahadur Budathapa said that around 40 villagers who reached the depot to acquire rice are now preparing to return empty-handed.

On the other hand, the Nepal Food Corporation had sanctioned a quota of 6,000 quintals of rice to replenish Kawadi Depot in the current fiscal year.

Given that, authorities had signed an agreement with three supply contractors, who have only delivered 1,500 quintals from the stipulated quota, till date, District Administration Office, Bajura informed.

Moreover, locals complain that the 1,500 quintals of subsidised rice was provided to them in meagre and lower quantities than the mandated quota of 40 kgs.

According to local Devilal Bhandari, the contractors took payments for 40 kgs and handed the villagers only 35 kgs of rice. And despite filing a police complaint, authorities did not care to take any action against the foul playing suppliers.

The suppliers – Nanda Mahtara (3,000 quintals), Bal Bahadur Thapa (1,000 quintals) and Nari Thapa (2,000 quintals) – had promised to replenish the aforementioned quota of subsidised rice on September 2018 but are yet to deliver on their promises, records at the food corporation office show.

Nonetheless, the government officials in the district say they are engaged in follow up with the suppliers and are working on ways to supply the region with rice to end food shortages.

According to Chief District Officer Chet Raj Baral, the food corporation and suppliers have been notified immediately after reports of food shortages surfaced in the region.