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Friday, November 16, 2012
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Half-hearted Aid, half-baked Plan for Five Years

Sidr victims still cry for help

Top: Although Sidr-damaged embankment in Chakamoiya in Kalapara upazila of Patuakhali was repaired last year, a large portion of the dyke collapsed during tidal surge this year. Bottom: Damaged by super cyclone Sidr on November 15, 2007, this wooden bridge on Adhani canal in Galachipa upazila of Patuakhali district is yet to be repaired.Photo: STAR

Five years into the onslaught of super cyclone Sidr, most of the 54,006 families who lost their houses in eight upazilas under the district are yet to get suitable dwellings.

Only 23,639 families have got new houses from government and different donors agencies of home and abroad.

Unable to build new houses, the rest 30,367 families are living in shabby huts, said sources of Patuakhali District Relief and Rehabilitation Office.

According to district administration, 2.25 lakh people of 54,006 families in the district became shelterless due to the Sidr that ravaged the southern region on November 15 in 2007.

Minara Begum, 50, wife of Khorshed Gazi of Char Federation, a remote coastal island under Baufal upazila, said, "All my five children died in Sidr. My house was also totally damaged. But I did not get a new house from the government or any donor organisation."

"I with my five-member family have to live in a shabby hut beside the embankment on the Paira River as I could not build new a house after losing my shelter in Sidr," Rahman Ali of Mehendiabad village under Mirzaganj upazila told this correspondent during his visit to the area on Monday.

Many others have similar tales to tell.

When contacted, Shanti Ranjon Baidya, district relief and rehabilitation officer (DRRO) in Patuakhali, said, ''Rehabilitation programme is going on with our limited resources. We arranged houses for the affected people according to the lists made by local union parishads. We are trying our best to ensure shelter for every victim."

The district administration also distributed Tk 40.50 crore and 2,262 bundles of CI sheets among Sidr victims to repair their damaged houses but the allotment was too little for the demand, said the DRRO.

Meanwhile, 300 kilometres of flood control embankment and 33 sluice gates that were damaged by the super cyclone Sidr in the district are yet be repaired.

As a result agriculture on over three lakh hectares of agri land is still under threat.

At least 816 km area out of 1209 km flood control embankment and 355 out of 412 sluice gates under Patuakhlia and Kalapara circles were damaged as Sidr hit on November 15 in 2007 in the coastal region, WDB sources said.

Md Dewar Hossain, executive engineer for WDB (Water Development Board) in Patuakhali Circle, said, "We failed to repair all the damaged embankments and sluice gates even five years after Sidr as the allocation for the purpose is insufficient."

Md Shafi Uddin, executive engineer for WDB of Kalapara Circle, also cited fund crisis as the cause for inability to repair all the damaged embankments.

Md Awal, 50, a farmer of Mehendiabad village under Mirzaganj upazila, said, "I failed to cultivate crops as salty water enters from adjacent Payra River through damaged parts of the flood control embankment."

Nurul Islam, a farmer Balaikathi village under Patuakhali Sadar upazila, said, "We do not want relief. Rather we demand immediate step to repair the damaged embankments so that we can cultivate our land to produce paddy to live."

Four hundred and sixty-six people were killed, 8,500 wounded, 211 others went missing as Sidr hit the region five years ago.

The super cyclone destroyed 54,006 houses and partly damaged 1,34,687 others in Patuakhali district. As many as 1161 educational institutions and 847 km road were also damaged in the natural disaster.

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