Solvents get TCB cards, insolvents deprived

Consumers' que before a TCB truck in Dhaka as food prices continue to riseProthom Alo file photo

Abu Taher is a milkman living in a shack made of corrugated tin. He didn’t get TCB’s (Trading Corporation of Bangladesh) family card for buying commodities at low prices when the prices of daily essentials have skyrocketed.

Another resident of the same municipal ward is Monoara Chowdhury, who is the general secretary of district Mahila Awami League unit and also an executive director of a private organisation. She even owns a multistoried building in the town.

Although poverty-stricken Taher didn’t get the TCB card, there is a card issued in the name of the well-off female leader of the ruling party. This opposite picture regarding the issuance of TCB card is from Thakurgaon municipal area.

Protap Kumar, deputy senior executive at TCB’s regional office in Rangpur, said in determining the number of beneficiaries while preparing the list, local population and poverty index are supposed to be taken into account.

However, allegations of issuing TCB cards under the ongoing programme, in the name of solvent people have been raised in Thakurgaon municipality, which is clearly a violation of the rules.

There is no way of denying the fact that several well-off people have received TCB’s family cards in all the municipal wards, not just in ward no. 4
Ratan Kumar Roy, District Market Monitoring Officer

When told about the TCB card issued under her name Monoara Chowdhury said, “I didn’t go to anyone asking for the card. In fact, I’m not even eligible to get the card. I can't say how was the card issued in my name.”

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District administration sources informed, TCB cards were distributed among 92,688 families in Thakurgaon. Of them, 7,000 cards were distributed in Thakurgaon municipal area. TCB’s dealers are selling a package of three commodities (2 litres of soybean oil, 2kg of sugar, 2kg lentil) for Tk 460 to the card holders.

While visiting Thakurgaon Boys’ High School field at around 11:00am on Monday, it was seen that there were two separate long queues of men and women. Ignoring the scorching heat they stood in the lines for the TCB goods. All of them were holding their cards.

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At around 12 in the noon, Shafiqul Islam, a resident of Sarker Para in Ward no. 4 was seen standing in the queue. At that time, another man, Aminul Islam, who was also standing in the queue, said that Shafiqul Islam is a wealthy man in the area. He has a multi-storied building and a lot of land properties. Aminul questioned, how did Shafiqul get his hands on the card?

Aminul Islam’s claims were found to be true during a visit to Sarker Para on Tuesday morning. Shafiqul’s house is currently two storied and another storey is under construction.

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Nasima begum, a resident of Sarker Para told Prothom Alo, many such wealthy people have received TCB cards. But, she and other people like her who are the right fit for receiving the cards, were deprived.

Ratan Kumar Roy, district bazar monitoring officer, is working as the tag officer of the TCB goods’ sales activities in Thakurgaon municipality.

Pressed on, Ratan Kumar Roy said to Prothom Alo, there is no way of denying the fact that several well-off people have received TCB’s family cards in all the municipal wards, not just in ward no. 4.

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At around 12 on Monday, Ansarul Haque, elder brother to Abul kalam Azad, general secretary of ward no. 4 unit of Awami League, was seen buying TCB goods from the queue. At that time, a resident of Naresh Chouhan road in the town Al Nasir informed that Ansarul Haque has a two storied house and shop on Naresh Chouhan road. He also has some land properties in his village.

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Ansarul Haque was not found at his home during a visit there. His younger brother Abul Kalam Azad told Prothom Alo over phone that his brother used to work at a sugar mill. Though he has retired from there two and a half years ago, he is yet to receive his retirement facilities. He is going through some hardships at the moment, so a TCB card was arranged for him.

From 11:00am to 2:00pm on Monday, many well-off residents of ward no. 4 including government employees, brick traders, college teachers, retired school teachers and contractors were seen buying TCB commodities.

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In total, 490 TCB cards have been distributed in ward no 4. Councillor of this ward, Sudam Sarker, said there might be some mistakes on the list of beneficiary as it was prepared within a short time. Regarding the issuance of TCB card for AL leader Monoara Chowdhury he said that he is unable to say who issued the card.

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When asked, Anjuman Ara Begum, mayor of Thagurgaon municipality, told Prothom Alo, errors occur in operating any humanitarian aid programme. Accusations are being made about people unsuitable to get TCB cards, have gotten the cards. Their cards will be cancelled after probing the allegation, she added.

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