Declare Sunamganj haor belt ‘disaster zone’, locals demand

The demand to declare the Sunamganj haor belt as a disaster zone is not a new one, however, farmers and public representatives have renewed their demand prior to Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s visit to the area tomorrow.

“We made the demands via meetings, press conferences, and rallies and now the PM is coming to this area. So, we demand that this area be declared as a flood affected region,” our Moulvibazar correspondent reports quoting Nurul Huda, chairman of District Council of Sunamganj.

Read More: Waiting for help

“It is also very sad to see the corruption by the Water Development Board in constructing the embankments. We did not expect this and we demand severe punishment of the perpetrators,” Nurul Huda added.

Also Read: Havoc in Haors: Fish dying further down

No efforts will be beneficial for the flood affected people unless the government makes the declaration, Md Abdul Huq, general secretary of Sunamganj Ainjibi Samity told the correspondent today.

Same demand was voiced by Ongikar Bangladesh, a voluntary organsation working for environment, at a human chain in the district town yesterday afternoon, correspondent reports.

The early flash flood first hit the country's north-eastern region late last month and continued to inundate more and more areas till last week, destroying almost the region’s entire Boro crop.

According to the Disaster Management Act-2012, concerned authorities will conduct the following “special activities” on an emergency basis after an area is declared as a disaster zone by the government: 

(a) Ensure  availability of resources  stocked  at  government  private  level  in  distressed areas to control disaster situation

(b) If necessary, ensure availability of increased resources

(c) Ensure public security and control of law and order situation

(d) Take proper steps to decrease losses of life assets and the environment and

(e) Take all necessary measures according to local disaster management plan

Inadequate VGF cards, OMS service

Moinul Hassan, a farmer in Kurban Nagar Union of Sunamganj Sadar upazila, said, “Many farmers did not receive the VGF (Vulnerable Group Feeding) cards but many influential people got those whilst we are the ones who are the most affected.”

Widowed Salma Begum, 65, of Kurban Nagar union said she was yet to get the VGF card and she wanted to talk to members and chairman but the gate of the union building was locked today.

Contacted, Abul Barkat, chairman of Kurban Nagar union said he got a quota of 200 VGF cards, but there are about 50, 000 flood-affected people in that union alone.

According to the Relief and Rehabilitation Department of Sunamganj, the VGF programme will cover 1,50,000 families in the district. Each household is to get 30kgs of rice and Tk 500 per month.

The chairman also said he did not get any Open Market Sell (OMS) dealer. Two unions together are supposed to get one dealer but his union did not even get that, he added.

Mohammad Kamruzzaman Kamrul, chairman of Tahirpur upazila, said each day 1,800 people are supposed to get OMS services in Tahirpur upazila. But there are about 2.5 lakh people who failed to harvest even a handful of rice this season.

Hence, the relief and other programme for the flood-affected victims should be increased, Mohammad Kamruzzaman Kamrul said.