Cold As It Gets
of poor in the northern districts are still struggling to
recover from the effect of monga. During October and November
they remained jobless. Moreover, this winter they found themselves
caught in the snare of the two consecutive cold waves.
spell of the cold wave started from January, 19 and lasted
till January 24. It was followed by the second one from January
25 to 27, paralysing the live of the people, mainly the poor
in 8 northern districts.
dropped down to 8-degree celcious during the first spell,
while 11°5 degree was recorded during the second. Although
the temperature in the first cold wave was lower, the second
one was more debilitating as it was slammed in with 9 milimetres
no one was reported to have died, for many of the elderly
as well as children with bronchitis, asthma and pneumonia
the spells of cold wave had a crippling effect. Absence of
worm clothes, food and medicines made the situation even worse.
people living along the basin of the Teesta, Dharla, Bramma-putra,
three major rivers in the region, are the worst sufferers.
As about 65 percent people in the region remain below the
poverty line, for them it is a tough hurdle to manage three
meals every day, let alone worm clothes during the winter.
the northern regions, winter is followed by monga.
Normally the job crisis for the day-labourers in the region
remains acute during this season. Farmers do not employ labourers
in the fields until late November and early December when
aman is ready for harvest.
of day labourers in the regions know no bounds. Many of the
families pass their days without two meals a day. Starvation
too is not unheard of. Those who have no other options, resort
to local moneyed men and are forced to borrow money at high
interest rates. Every winter, government and non-government
organizations distribute worm
clothes among the poor. This time around, the government through
Food and Disaster Management Ministry distributed about 3000
pieces of blankets on an average for each of the 8 northern
districts under Dinajpur and Rangpur regions.
with the need, the volume of relief clothes was very little.
Many of the poor termed the relief clothes distribution programme
as "merely an eyewash," while others called it an
effort to produce some image-boosting footages for television.
According to a meteorologist of Rangpur Meteorological Office,
cold wave sweeps frequently over eight northern districts
for geographical causes. He said, " During winter North-Westerly
wind blows from the Himalayas in India. Since the 8 northern
districts under Rangpur and Dinajpur are only about 250 km
away from the mountain, the wind sweeps over the regions with
Syed Zakir Hossain
(R) thedailystar.net 2004