We welcome the government’s plan to allocate Tk 100 crore for the rehabilitation of victims of river erosion which annually leaves around 50,000 people—who comprise around 30 to 40 percent of the homeless in the country—without a home. It is about time the government took this initiative, as this problem is expected to be just as serious in future and estimates suggest may leave some 45,000 people homeless again next year.
People who are affected by river erosion make up a substantial portion of our large internal migrant population, which is a major cause for the overpopulating of cities such as Dhaka—putting severe pressure on their environment and infrastructure. And it is also causing poverty.
However, benefits from the initiative taken by the government can only be reaped with its proper utilisation. And the government must ensure that the funds set aside go to actual victims of river erosion, instead of ending up in the pockets of others that government aid so often does. This means the government must come up with a mechanism that will make allocation transparent and efficient—and prevent it from becoming politicised at all cost. As otherwise, the whole initiative will be a waste and the entire Tk 100 crore of taxpayer’s money will go down the drain.
Moreover, since many victims of river erosion are farmers, the government should consider helping them with alternate means of earning. Yes the fund may help them temporarily, but in the long run, they will need permanent sources of income and the government can play a big role in assisting with that.