Saturday, June 22, 2024

Anxiety grips Aila victims before rains

The hapless victims of cyclone Aila, with the monsoon setting in shortly, say that they want to return their homesteads in Dacope and Koyra upazilas, and are badly in need of assistance for reconstruction of their houses along with employment, reports NewAgebd.
‘We don’t know how we will fare in the coming days, especially during the monsoon, as we could not go back to our homesteads,’ said 62-year-old Nirapada Mandal, who is now living, along with his seven-member family, in a makeshift shack at Telikhali Point on the Kamarkhola-Nalian Road.
Nirapada, like many others of his locality on the bank of the river Nalian near the Sundarbans, has been living in utter uncertainty. There will be no place to go if the nor’wester strikes and the frail shelters, in which thousands of homeless families live, will be torn apart by the winds and monsoon rains.
‘You see, our shelters are made of bamboo and straw and covered with polythene mostly,’ said 50-year-old Binoy Krishna Mandal. ‘They are too weak to survive winds and heavy rain and so we are terribly anxious.’
When asked about the agriculture situation in the Aila-stricken areas, especially Dacope and Koyra upazilas, one of the residents said there was no cultivable land in the severely affected areas. ‘Salinity has destroyed all the fertility of the lands and salty water is still overflowing them during every high tide,’ said 26-year-old Sagar Mandal.
‘We could have cultivated the lands in the ongoing season but it is not possible now, and we will have to wait for next season that will begin next Bhadra (September)’ said farmer Dipankar Gain of Madhyabil-Sutarkhali.
Dipankar said that each family could get only 20 kilograms of rice per month from the government. ‘Various organizations gave us food but after November 2009 we got nothing as aid and are passing the days half fed.’
‘How long can we expect relief?’ asked Omar Ali Mistri of village Kalinagar who lost all his belongings to Aila. ‘We want work, we want our houses reconstructed and we want to go back to our own professions.’
When asked about the government’s rehabilitation programme, one of the residents of Kalinagar, located in the southern part of Bagerhat district, said that there has been no concrete assurance from the government.
‘Many people say many things, but we find nothing on the ground,’ said Mistri regretfully.
As per the statistics of the upazila administrations, 25,067 homes were damaged totally while 8,349 were damaged partially in Dacope upazila, and 23,820 houses were damaged totally and 18,620 were damaged partly in Koyra upazila in Khulna district when Aila hit the south-western districts on 25 May, 2009.
They said that they lack money, and the prices of daily essentials are going up and up. They have spent the fund of Tk 3,000, distributed by the government to each homeless family for reconstruction of their homes, for just food and other essentials.
‘We had to spend the money for buying food, utensils and to meet other daily needs,’ said Md Abbas Ali Gazi, 31, of village Jaliakhali.
Acknowledging the problem of monsoon and nor’westers in the severely affected areas, Dacope’s upazila nirbahi officer, Quazi Atiur Rahman, told New Age that various NGOs have started different rehabilitation and job creating programmes.
The UNO said that they have been rebuilding the embankments and, after reconstruction, the government plans to distribute corrugated iron sheets and cash for the rehabilitation of Aila’s victims.

Courtesy of NewAgebd

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