Floodwaters receded, but marks of wrath all over | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, September 13, 2020 / LAST MODIFIED: 03:01 AM, September 13, 2020

Aftermath of floods in Sirajganj

Floodwaters receded, but marks of wrath all over

3,259 people rendered homeless; overall damage estimated at Tk 300cr; urgent rehabilitation programmes absent

Lal Banu Begum and her family decided to come home after the floodwaters started to recede, but only to find their house, made of corrugated iron sheets, in utter despair. 

They came back a couple of weeks ago from the nearby flood protection embankment where they had been staying since June 2.

The flooding of their home, at Char Porjana village in Shahzadpur upazila of Sirajganj, had forced them to leave all their belongings behind and take shelter on the embankment.

By that time, the two money earners of the family, Lal Banu's two sons, had become jobless. The brothers, handloom artisans, have been victims of an abrupt fall in demands for handloom items during the rise of Covid-19 cases in the country over the past several months. 

Then the floods came and destroyed the handlooms of the brothers -- the final nail in the coffin of their livelihood.

Sifting through the ruins, in their attempt to salvage any piece of their household items, the family is now baffled and bewildered as to how they would survive or repair their only house that they call home.  

"Now I don't know how we'll stay alive, let alone fix the house," Lal Banu said. 

Asked whether they received any assistance from the government, she replied in the negative.

In the same upazila, farmer Jalal Hossain from Jamirta village now pulls a rickshaw-van to make a living. He and his family also took shelter on the embankment during the flood and they returned home recently.

The flood destroyed all the Aman rice he planted as well as the earthen foundation of his tin-roofed house.

Jalal also said his family is yet to see any government effort to help flood victims get back on their feet.   

Sahjahan Ali, a small-time trader from the same village, said that without finding any financial support from the government, he took a loan of Tk 1.3 lakh from a non-governmental organisation to rebuild his flood-damaged house.   

Many other flood victims are also running around for loans from NGOs as the government is yet to come forward with any sort of rehabilitation programme for the flood victims, he added.

Abdur Rahim, relief and rehabilitation officer in Sirajganj, said 3,259 people became homeless after the three-month-long flood that caused partial or full damage to nearly 1.3 lakh houses in the district.

He also said that they already sought Tk 53 core from the ministry to rehabilitate the affected population.

Aside from homesteads, the floods wreaked havoc on all sorts of agriculture and infrastructure in the district.

The total estimation of the damage by the flood in Sirajganj stands at around Tk 300 crore, Abdur Rahim added. 

During this flood, 2.24 lakh farmers have lost about Tk 212.46 crore worth of crops on 22,665 hectares of land in the district, said Shahid Nur Akbar, acting deputy director of Department of Agricultural Extension (DAE) in Sirajganj.

The DAE has started distributing seeds and saplings to affected farmers, he added.

Mizanur Rahman, executive engineer of Local Government Engineering Department in Sirajganj, said the district suffered about Tk 58 core in damage after the flood destroyed 274 kilometres of roads along with culverts.

The ministry has been informed of the situation and restoration work of the road network would start once the funding is allocated, he added.

According to Sirajganj Livestock Officer Akhtaruzzaman Bhuiyan, 770 tonnes of grass and 588 tonnes of straw were damaged, while 8,562 acres of grazing field was inundated during the flood. 

The flood washed away an estimated 155 tonnes of fish, worth Tk 2.48 core, in 778 ponds, according to data provided by Sirajganj Fisheries Officer Shahed Ali.

During a visit to Porjana village in Shahzadpur, this correspondent witnessed signs of devastation caused by the flood all around the village.

The inhabitants of the village were seen walking on foot for miles as the devastation on roads there has been so severe that those are no longer fit for vehicular movement.  

"The floodwater has receded, but it has left marks of its wrath all over," said village doctor Abdur Rouf.   

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