People at Rajpur village in Lalmonirhat Sadar upazila engage in an earth-cutting work under the government-run 40-day project meant for creating employment opportunity for the ultra poor affected by the seasonal monga, a near famine situation, in a few northern districts including Lalmonirhat. Photo: STAR
A large number of poor people in the district are passing a tough time due to monga, a near-famine situation that affects the greater Rangpur region during Bangla months of Ashwin and Kartik when farm labourers become jobless in absence of agricultural activities.
To help ease the situation, the government arranges a 40-day job scheme for the ultra poor people during this period every year.
But the programme is yet to start in many areas this year due to delay in allocation of fund from the authorities concerned, said sources at Lalmonirhat District Relief and Rehabilitation Office (DRRO).
The programme in the rest 30 out of 45 unions will start by mid-November, they said.
During October-November last year, the government sanctioned Tk 5 crore 47.33 lakh for the 40-day job scheme to make employment opportunity for the ultra poor in the district, they said, adding that over 10 thousand people will get earning opportunity if the fund for the scheme reaches the DRRO office soon.
Faced with serious hardship, a large number of ultra poor people from different places in five upazilas of Lalmonirhat district have gone to the capital and other places in the country in search of job.
"I and 20 other people of my village are waiting for train to go to Bogra in search of job," Azizar Rahman, 42, of Chondimari village in Aditmari upazila told this correspondent at Lalmonirhat railway station.
Jamal Uddin, 40, of Dolgram village under Kaliganj upazila said he and 10 others from the village were going to the capital with hope to earn by pulling rickshaw.
"We will have to suffer till the start of harvest of transplanted aman paddy after about 20/25 days," said Mozammel Miah, 48," a farm labourer at Kalmati village in Lalmonirhat Sadar upazila.
The people, who earn livelihood by pulling rickshaws in the district, are also facing difficulties in maintaining their families.
"I can hardly earn Tk 80 pulling rickshaw all the day, as I get only a few passengers. And so, I and my family members have to remain half starved,” said Ramoni Barmon, 40, of Uttar Saptana area in the district town.
Several day labourers including Mozir Ali, 45, Niyamot Miah, 32, Taher Ali, 46, Mominul Islam, 50, of Char Kulaghat village in Lalmonirhat Sadar, and Suza Miah, 40, Jabbar, 28, Ali Mohammad, 52, of Paruliya village in Hatibandha upazila said they are living a miserable life due to the job crisis.
"I have borrowed Tk 4,000 at 10 per cent monthly interest from a money lender of my village, promising to repay the money after earning during aman paddy harvesting period,” said Jalal Uddin, 42, a day labourer at Char Gobordhon village of Aditmari upazila.
"The government's 40-day job scheme during October-November last year helped us to survive during the seasonal crisis but now we are badly suffering as the programme has not started yet,” said Monowar Hossain, 42, a day labourer at Harati village in Lalmonirhat Sadar.
Habibur Rahman, deputy commissioner of Lalmonirhat, said, "My office is yet to get allocation for the 40-day job scheme from the government tnis season. As soon as the allocation is made, I will start the programme meant for helping the ultra poor people fight the seasonal crisis."