Govt employees charge locals for food aid in famine-hit Thar


BADIN: In a famine-hit desert, Tharparkar, where malnutrition has claimed lives of a large number of children, it has been found on Tuesday that locals were charged Rs50 to Rs100 for a 50-kilogramme sack of wheat.

Talking to the media, a local said, “The food department staff was charging them money for their services of distributing wheat that the government said would be free of cost for the famine-hit region.”

The government had declared Tharparkar as the famine-hit district of Sindh, after which they announced that wheat would be distributed free of cost to families living there.

Subsequently, a centre was set up in the tehsil headquarters where families were asked to come with national identity cards of their heads to collect their sack of wheat.

Earlier, agents appointed by the government would distribute wheat sacks from door to door. However, this time, locals were asked to travel to the centre that is located at a distance from different tehsils of the district, causing them inconvenience.

They have to pay at least Rs5,000 to be driven to the centre in a 4×4 vehicle as the district lacks a proper public transport system due to improper infrastructure.

Locals were paying more in travelling to the distribution centre than what a single sack costs — Rs1,625 for 50kgs — while the food department staff will manage to illegally make around Rs 10 million if they charge Rs50 from each family going to receive ‘free’ sack of wheat.

Tharparkar is home to more than 200,000 families, with 44,109 in Nagarparkar tehsil of the district; 35,767 in Mithi; 35,420 in Islamkot; 35,612 in Chachro; 33,029 in Daili; around 22,000 in Diplo and 12,022 in Kaloi.