Sunday, June 23, 2024

Move afoot to rehabilitate Aila-hit families

The government will distribute corrugated iron sheets for housing 48,000 ‘Aila’-hit homeless families in the 11 southern coastal districts.
A tender has been floated for the purpose and an amount of Tk. 96 crore will be provided from the current budget, food and disaster management ministry sources told The Independent.
The tropical storm ‘Aila’ hit the southern areas of the country on May 25, 2009 rendering  about 49 lakh people homeless as tidal waves leaping up to 13 feet high rolled over the coastal districts. The waves damaged over 1800km-long-river and flood-control embankments, submerging many villages in Khulna, Satkhira, Patuakhali and Barisal.
Food and disaster management minister Dr MA Razzaque told The Independent that the government had already taken steps to help the ‘Aila’ hit people. The steps, he said, included vulnerable group feeding (VGF) programme. About 45,000 ‘Aila’-hit families were now enjoying VGF facilities, he said.
“It is not possible to distribute the CI sheets among the affected people before the re-construction of embankments,” he said.
Replying to a query about the repair of embankments, the minister said they were trying to complete the repair work before the upcoming rainy season.
A large number of domestic animals and standing crops on farmland were lost in the tidal surge.
Cyclonic storm ‘Sidr’ hit the coastal areas on November 15, 2007 and totally damaged standing crops on 7,42,826 acres and on 17,30,116 acres partially. About 1,14km roads were also damaged fully and 6,361km partially. Around two lakh people who were rendered homeless, are still passing their days under the open sky. About 1,875 km flood control embankment was also damaged.
Four out of 30 districts, including Barguna, Bagerhat, Patuakhali and Pirojpur, are identified as the worst affected districts. Sidr claimed lives of nearly 4,000 people and about two million (20,64,026) families were directly hit by it. The cyclonic storm Sidr rendered about nine million (89,23,259) people homeless.
According to the disaster management ministry, at least 70 major various tropical cyclones have hit the coastal belt of Bangladesh in the last 200 years.
Some examples of severe tropical cyclones are the Barisal cyclone of 1584, the Bakerganj cyclone of 1876, the May 1985 Urir Char cyclone, the November 1970 cyclone and the devastating cyclone of 1991.
The cyclone of April 29, 1991 caused an estimated 1,40,000 deaths, over 85 per cent of them in just five upazilas, but more than 10 million people in 102 upazilas in Chittagong, Noakhali and Cox’s bazaar were badly hit.
The November 12, 1970 cyclone hit the coastal districts severely, particularly those in the southwest. The official death figure was 1,70,000, but unofficial estimates were as high as 5,00,000. An area of about 8,100 km was affected and 400,000 houses, 3,500 schools and 20,000 fishing boats were destroyed.

Courtesy of The Independent

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