Near-freezing conditions in the first week of Magh, the last month of winter season according Bangla calendar, has brought everyday activities to almost a standstill in Lalmonirhat.
Yesterday morning, mercury fell to 7.2 degrees Celsius in Lalmonirhat where it dipped to as low as 8.2 degrees the day before.
People in the area are advised to brace for colder days as temperature in the district is likely to fall further, according to a forecast of the met office in Rajarhat.
The ongoing cold wave has been causing boundless sufferings for all -- especially the young, the elderly, day labourers and farm workers.
Saifur Rahman, a 70-year-old resident of Uttar Saptana village in Lalmonirhat Sadar upazila, said, “The cold is unbearable” and this has been the coldest year in his life.
With bone-chilling cold and a persistent blanket of fog over the area throughout the day, impoverished people have been trying to keep themselves warm by basking in straw fire.
Many of them, without any warm clothes, are still trying to make a living by working as day labourers at agricultural fields.
“I went to the field ignoring the cold to earn a living, but I couldn’t carry on,” said farm worker Nazir Ali, 65, from Bangram village of Sadar upazila.
Rickshaw puller Noor Mohammad, a slum dweller in Shaheed Shahjahan Colony area of Lalmonirhat town, said he did not even dare to get out with his rickshaw in such cold. “Besides, there’s not too many passengers out on the road.”
With no money coming in, he had to rely on loans to feed his family, he added.
Unable to afford even any blanket, the homeless and the extreme poor, both in the town and in char areas of the district, are passing each day with the hope that the coming days will get warmer.
Homeless Momina Begum, from Khorapul village in the same upazila, said, “I’m a landless person living on an abandoned railway line. I’m trying to survive in the cold by bundling up in some old rags. Neither the government nor the NGOs gave me anything [blankets or warm clothes].”
Contacted, Lalmonirhat Deputy Commissioner Abu Zafor claimed that there is not much demand for free blankets in the district as the people there have become more “self-reliant”. “At the beginning of the winter, we distributed around 4,000 blankets. There is no more demand now.”