Govt may call in army for repair | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, February 19, 2010 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:00 AM, February 19, 2010

Aila-hit Embankments

Govt may call in army for repair

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The government is considering deploying the army to repair the embankments in Cyclone Aila-hit areas if the Water Development Board fails to do so by the end of the dry season.
Since the cyclone struck the southern coastal areas nine months ago, 2.5 lakh people in Khulna and Satkhira have been living in makeshift homes on embankments.
Speaking during a programme, “Rights-based disaster management in light of Aila,” Food and Disaster Management Minister Abdur Razzaque said, “If the WDB [Water Development Board] cannot say within a week whether it can complete the repairs by the end of the dry season, we shall call in the army, law enforcers and locals.”
If repairs are not made by the time the wet season begins, the displaced people will be forced to wait another year.
Razzaque likened it to a “war situation” and said the area may be declared a critical zone.
WDB Director Sharafat Hossain Khan maintained that the repairs would be completed by March.
The Bangladesh Environment Lawyers' Association (Bela) and Brac, who have long demanded that repairs be made, hosted the meeting at Cirdap auditorium in the capital.
A spokesperson from Bela said that 400 kilometres of embankment require repairs.
Bela Director Syeda Rizwana Hasan said salt water from the rivers is entering the agricultural land via the damaged embankments, posing a serious threat to crop production in many parts of Khulna and Satkhira.
The food minister said once the embankments are repaired, the government, with assistance from Japan, will provide each displaced family with two bundles of corrugated iron sheets and around Tk 15,000 to rebuild their homes.
Despite the promises, Aila victims burst into tears while describing their deplorable living conditions.
Murshida Begum said, “I used to survive on my vegetable crops and I sent my two children to school. Now I have no home and I can't afford to send my kids to school. What shall I do?”
She and other victims protested that contrary to the minister's assurance, they had not received Tk 5,000 from the government following the cyclone.
Syeda Rizwana Hasan said Bangladesh has disaster management response protocols, but they are not legally binding.
A disaster management law to ensure the rights of disaster victims is currently being framed.
Cyclone Aila killed over 300 people when it struck Bangladesh's southern coastal area in May 2009.
Faustina Pereira and Babar Kabir of Brac also spoke during the meeting.

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