By Our Correspondent Baitadi, Oct. 9; The settlements on the remote hills in the Baitadi district have been reeling from the shortage of rice because 17, 000 quintals of rice, which should have arrived there before start of the Dashain festival, have failed to arrive.
Fair price shops used to open during the festival in coordination with local levels and Salt Trading Corporation (STC), but not this time. Because of that, poor or low-income people of Talloswarad of Baitadi, Darchula, Bajhang, Bajura and Achham districts are facing an uphill battle to meet their daily necessities, even during the great festival. Rice has been in short supply in the depots of the remote districts after the Food Management and Trading Company Limited (FMTC) failed to deliver them on time.
The FMTC, Dhangadhi, has been unable to supply 1,000 quintals of rice for Melauli Depot, 2,000 quintals for Kulau in Pancheshwor of Baitadi, 500 quintals for Biswana in Bajhang, 7,000 quintals for Kawadi and Kolti Depot in Bajura.
Similarly, about 3,700 quintals of rice for Khandeshwari, Rapla, Paribagar and Gokuleshwor depots of Darchula and 3,000 quintals for Mangalsen and Ramaroshan of Achham could not be sent. Indira Basnet, Chief of the FMTC, said that rice could not be sent to remote hills on the eve of Dashain because of delay in calling for tender in time. Basnet said, “The tender process was delayed due to various reasons. A tender has just been called for the supply of 17,700 quintals of rice for the remote hills for the current fiscal year 2021/22. However, the contractors have yet to come for the agreement. We will send rice to hilly districts as soon as the agreement is reached.”
Fair price shops not open Salt Trading and the local government have not been able to open a fair price shops in Baitadi this year. Keshav Prasad Pandey, Chief of STC, Dhangadhi, said that no recommendation had been received from the local government and district administration office for the sale of salt, sugar and soap at a discounted rate. Pandey said, “This year, the price of sugar sold from discount store has been fixed at Rs. 79 per kg and salt at Rs. 18 per kg. There is no demand from any local level and district administration office in Baitadi to run a fair price shop.”
Local government indifferent The local government has been reluctant to run fair price shops. Before the formation of the local government, the STC itself was running a discount shop. Pandey said that no recommendation was received from any local level this year even though a discount shop was set up in KI Singh Rural Municipality of Doti last year as per the recommendation of the local government and district administration office.
In the past, the STC used to operate a discount store in Patan in Baitadi. After the formation of the local-level government, it is the responsibility of the local government to run a fair price shop during Dashain and Tihar, said the STC. Dinesh Bista, a local of Patan Municipality, complained that the consumers have been compelled to purchase essentials at exorbitant price in absence of a fair price shop in the municipality.