12:00 AM, November 25, 2007 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:00 AM, November 25, 2007

Economists predict Tk 6,500cr loss

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Pinaki Roy

The property loss caused by Cyclone Sidr is so far estimated at Tk 6,500 crore by prominent economists of the country.
But the figure is sure to increase once the government prepares the final report of devastation, the economists said. They also said the country will lag behind for years due to the natural disaster.
Different economists are estimating the economic loss using different methods, but none of their calculations came to less than Tk 6,000 crore.
Sidr left thousands of people economically ruined in the coastal zone, turning many of them into real paupers. Many people do not have any means left for earning a single paisa since the cyclone had ravaged the coastal belt of the country.
In many cyclone hit areas, all business activities are at a complete halt, causing great economic loss, the economists said adding that they fear it might also cause inflation and reduce the growth of gross domestic products (GDP).
Besides, resources from Dhaka have to move towards the coastal zone to tackle the immediate crisis, which will also hamper the economic growth.
According to the primary estimation of the Centre for Policy Dialogue (CPD), Sidr caused property loss of Tk 6,500 crore. On the basis of data available from the Ministry of Food and Disaster Management up to November 21, CPD calculated the loss of aman paddy at Tk 3,500 crore, roads and bridges at Tk 1,100 crore, houses at Tk 750 crore, and trees at Tk 500 crore.
"But the figures might shoot up significantly as the ministry is updating the data on a daily basis," Dr Mustafizur Rahman, executive director of CPD, told The Daily Star yesterday.
He said they had to depend on government data since it is almost impossible to collect the data from the field, with limited resources.
Dr Abul Barakat said Sidr affected more than four crore people across the country, one crore of whom live in the coastal zone, being directly affected.
"It will take years to recover from the loss," he said adding if a 20-year old tree was felled, it will take another 20 years to recover from that loss.
The loss in Sundarbans will take at least 40 years to recover. He also said psychological trauma and the cost of treating injuries should also be included in the calculation of the property loss.
"We have 15 crore people but we could not stand beside the cyclone hit people to help them out. We all have to work to recover from the economic loss," said Barakat.
Dr Atiur Rahman said the loss incurred due to the cyclone stands at several thousand crores of taka.
"Only the loss of aman is even worth no less than Tk 3,000 crore," said Dr Atiur Rahman, chief of Unnayan Shamannay, a non-profit research and development organisation, adding that they are still studying the property loss due to Sidr, the result of which will be published by mid-December.
In several cyclone hit pockets of Bagerhat, Barguna, Barisal, Patuakhali, Pirojpur, and on many chars (sandbar islands) cyclone survivors do not have any money, neither do they have any way of earning money right now. The only economic activity, seen in some areas, is fishing with small nets.
A high official of Rupantar, a regional non-government organisation working with cyclone survivors in the Khulna division, said money circulation is at a stand still among the survivors. Along with the relief operation, the government, donor agencies and non-government organisations should work on ensuring circulation of money among the victims on a priority basis, he added.

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